Save time, save money and be eco #2 – Veggies

So you’ve been told to only eat organic, only buy from farmer’s markets and nothing wrapped in plastic – tricky? Yes!

After reading many years ago that the pesticides that are sprayed on our vegetables cause more harm than good to not only our bodies but also the environment, I was determined to eat better.

We tried organic for everything

First we tried organic. Eating certified organic food is one of the best possible ways you can avoid nasty pesticides but it is very expensive and often wrapped in unnecessary plastic to differentiate it from other vegetables.

So I found a list: https://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/dirty-dozen-fruits-and-vegetables/

And we tried to stick by this but as you are well aware time and money comes into play

So we found this – A local coop : Harvest Hub

Harvest hub has been a great find for us. It supplies Sydney suburbs with small scale farmed produce and many of it is spray free. This means they are not certified organic but still limit the amount and types of sprays they use. The fruit and vegetables are fresh – no sitting in freezers for month and we are supporting locally grown produce – no overseas food miles here.

We may spend a little bit more money but the produce lasts A LOT LONGER than supermarket food. I have had carrots fall to the bottom of the drawer and be found two weeks later still crispy and delicious! (that would never happen with the supermarket bought carrots)

So what do I recommend?

  1. Buy organic if you can but only if it is not wrapped in plastic. Local coops and farmers markets can offer affordable organic produce at times.
  2. Buy spray free if not organic. Google your local coops for this and seek farmers markets.
  3. If you cannot afford either, soak your vegetables in one tablespoon of baking soda to a bowl of water (https://foodrevolution.org/blog/how-to-wash-vegetables-fruits/) to remove pesticide residue.
  4. Buy local food and buy in season. You do not need mandarins from USA in summer if you can buy melons and berries grown in Australia.
  5. Buy fruit and vegetables that are not wrapped in plastic – does it really save you time? I highly doubt it.

What do you do to lessen your impact on the environment and your wallet when buying fruit and vegetables?

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Stock made from scraps!

Over the last week rather than composting all of our vegetable scraps, I have been keeping some of it in the freezer.

I then roasted an organic chook and some chicken drumsticks and kept all the bones and leftover meaty bits we didn’t want to eat.

Now, this will often go into our compost but I have given it one more life and turned it into

Chicken Stock!

Now we can add extra flavour to our meals throughout the weeks and months without it costing a single cent!

Recipe taken from
I Quit Sugar: Simplicious

How do you wrap your sandwich

 

I’ve always been intrigued by the amount of people that tell me they can’t stop using cling wrap because they can’t afford to buy reusable containers.

So I decided to do a little research of my own and here you are – some reasons why you should ditch the cling wrap and plastic zip lock bags and move towards reusable containers, beeswax wraps and paper bags!

You can’t cite the cost when they are nearly all the same!!

How much is your sandwich wrap costing you?-3

Book worms

How can a library, classroom or home become more sustainable but also fun?

I’ve introduce Book worms and Book chooks to our library for any leftover scraps.

In the ideal world we wouldn’t have any leftovers but unfortunately with young children there is food waste.

Food thrown out into the garbage goes into landfill. In landfill food waste has little oxygen to help it to break down therefore it creates more methane into the atmosphere.

Methane creates more heat into the atmosphere, which isn’t great but when food is composted it only releases carbon, as oxygen is also used to break it down – much better for the atmosphere.

So what are you waiting for? Time to make a small difference in where your food waste goes!

If you live or work somewhere where you don’t have the space for a worm farm or large compost bin – try these Bokashi bins.

You can buy them from biome (just click below)

 

 

Every time you add waste to the bucket, you sprinkle a small amount of bokashi onto the waste (the bokashi is a fine grain like mixture). Once the container is filled to capacity (about 3 to 4 weeks for the average household), you can immediately shallow bury the fermented waste in your garden, planter or outdoor compost.
Or, you can let the waste continue to ferment for two weeks in another airtight container (such as a plastic bag or bucket with lid) and then transfer the matter into your garden. The extra fermentation means the material will break down faster in the soil.

 

 

 

The thank you dish by Trace Balla

What are you thankful for?

Do you stop during the day and reflect on how lucky you are?

The Thank you dish by Trace Balla might help you and your child think about being grateful for all the little things we take for granted.


It’s dinner time at Grace’s place and together with her mother they are giving thanks for the many ways their meal has made it to their plate. They are grateful for the simple things like rain, soil and sunshine but then Grace moves onto other ideas such as road workers (who make sure the roads are safe for the bikes to travel along), kangaroos (for not eating the food before they picked it), alpacas (for their wool that keeps us warm) and friends (who help grow and catch food).

Trace Balla has written this celebratory book to show young children that there is more to their meal apart from the supermarket and the packages. They are shown that being a part of a community is part of the growth of food and it also shows that taking the time to slow down, be grateful and learn about where your food comes from is really important.

Grace and her mum also show the slow movement towards sustainable food gathering – a movement which is slowly building momentum as people start to realise the importance of supporting those who grow food and make things from hand.

Australian life is reflected through Trace Balla’s illustrations. You can feel the spring time glow and the smell of winter evenings on the water.

The Thank you dish is one to share with all young families and one that will hopefully initiate your own evening meal conversations of gratitude.

So what else can you do with this book? 

 

Download these tips now: thethankyoudish

T-Veg: The story of a carrot crunching dinosaur by Smritti Prasadam-Halls

Have you ever considered becoming a Vegetarian? Or perhaps even a Veganism?

Did you get hassled? Questioned? Teased?

Reginald the T-Rex does – and he is not happy about it.


Reginald is a fierce T-Rex, he can run fast, jump high and roar very loudly! However,  he just doesn’t want to eat meat – he wants to eat carrot cake, vegetable stew and banana berry cake instead!! His friends laugh at him and tell him that there he cannot be  T-Rex if he is to continue these veggie eating ways and with this, Reginald walks away.

He tries to befriend some other herbivores but when they just run away he tries to act like a herbivore but finds it too boring. Sad and confused Reginald heads for home – only to find that his T-Rex friends really do need him – and it’s lucky that he has returned!

This book, written in rhyme is a fun adventure into the world of vegetarianism and acceptance of everyone – no matter what they eat, look like or believe in. Children will learn that everyone is equal, special and has something to add to the community.

Katherine Manolessou’s illustrations are bright and energetic and she makes Reginald an easy to love T-Veg – Rex.

Perhaps you have never considered a carrot crunching dinosaur to send a message about Vegetarianism or acceptance of differences – but written in fast paced rhyme, this book does just that.

Perhaps it’s time you enjoyed some more vegetarian meals!

So what can you do at home?

SUSTAINABILITY

– Try to have a meat free day once a week then progress to twice a week….it can be done!! A current favourite of ours is: Pumpkin and Peanut Butter curry

– Source your meat from organic and local companies. It may mean spending more money but just use less – add more vegetables to the dish instead!

– Try adding more vegetables to your meals and snack – they create less waste

– Do you have a compost bin? Worm farm? All those extra scraps can go this way!

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Meeka by Suzanne Barton and Anil Tortop

Some dads cook sausages.

Some dads cook pasta.

My dad cooks spicy, dicey stew.

And then our adventure with the delightful Meeka begins.


Meeka the sweet blue bird, hangs around with a father and daughter who cook at the market.

Meeka not only loves helping cook the heavily scented tagines through his magical song but he also loves making friends and tasting the delights from the other market stalls.

But we soon learn that perhaps all of these treats are not so good for a little birdy body…..

—-

Meeka is a delightfully told story by Suzanne Barton about not only a father-daughter relationship but also about the care we can give to natures’ smaller creatures. Throughout this story we also feel the care of the market stall owner community when little Meeka cannot be found.

Community love is something that perhaps many of us do not experience in our inner city life or perhaps even rural isolation but within this story it just shows that by taking part in small community activities such as the markets, we can make friends and feel a sense of belonging just through simple activities such as cooking, eating and chatting.

The father and daughter show love through cooking and cleaning together, talking to other stall owners, customers and singing with Meeka.

Anil Tortop’s illustrations are done in pastel colours full of love. We can feel the happiness oozing from the pages, we can sense the love the father and daughter have for each other and the care they have for Meeka. The illustrations really bring this story to life and show not only the immediate characters but all of the extra people who make their lives complete.

Meeka is a self published book by Bluebell books and was crowdfunded by around 100 people. Without the support of these people I may have never been able to share this lovely story which just goes to show that as budding authors, writers should never give up on a story that they feel will make a difference to our world.


Meeka by Suzanne Barton and Anil Tortop is a heart warming read and one to share. The qualities of care, kindness, helping others and joy are all the traits we want to see in our children and through this story we can show our children how important they are.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Are there any market places near you? Plan a family outing to a farmer’s markets.

– What do you love to cook? Choose a favourite recipe and cook this with someone you love. Explore the senses that light up as you cook – smells, tastes, sounds, sights and touch.

– Take a walk into your backyard or local park and see the different birds that live nearby. Can you watch what they eat? How might humans be effecting the birds diets?

Take part in the national bird watch count.

– Explore how to make Tagines, crusty bread, donuts and toffee!

– Suzanne Barton uses rhyme to describe the father’s cooking, toffee and nectar. Can you create your own rhymes to describe your favourite food?

 

And check out Bluebell books to buy your own copy!

 

 

Children in our world: Poverty and Hunger by Louise Spilsbury and Hanane Kai

How do you talk to your children about poverty? Have you ever wandered through the city and seen a homeless person sleeping on the street? What have you said to your child? Or more importantly – what have they asked you?


Poverty is a huge issue in our society and one which often gets unnoticed as a lot of the media coverage it driven by consumerism and money. We see so many images of people who have so much, we see advertisements telling us we need to have things to make us happy but how often do we see the people who have lost their homes, loved ones and money? Not so much.

To tell you the truth I was a little bit hesitant about reading Children in our world: Poverty and Hunger by Louise Spilsbury and Hanane Kai to my six year old. But she wanted to read it. She told me she wanted to know more about poor people, why they are poor and how we can help them.

Perhaps the numerous stories we have read and conversations we have had are paying off.

Children in our world: Poverty and Hunger by Louise Spilsbury and Hanane Kai is wordy but is written in language that children can identify with. I didn’t feel that I needed to paraphrase any of the story or leave anything too confronting out. I didn’t even need to come up with a reflection of what we can do as the final pages give ideas to the reader.

This book gently looks at poverty and hunger – and leaves the reader empowered to do something, not fearful of the world we live in.

We need to read these books to our children as this is the world we live in but we need to do it in a way – as done in this book that educates them so they know why these things can happen. Different reasons are given for poverty and hunger and also different ways volunteers and governments try to help out to alleviate these issues.

Children in our world: Poverty and Hunger by Louise Spilsbury and Hanane Kai is a must have for anyone wanting to explore these issues with their children and students.

BUY NOW

 Poverty and Hunger (Children in Our World)

Happy eco birthday to you…..

Balloons, plastic wrapped lollies, party blowers, party hats…..memories of a childhood birthday party.

Waiting in anticipation for the day and counting out the lollies for each of the party bags.

But with all of this eco guilt how can we have a more eco friendly birthday party without skipping out of all of the fun?

Plastic free July has been a great challenge and although i have slipped up a couple of times, (post here) overall we are making progress in using less plastic in our house.

But in the middle of this plastic free challenge is a birthday party.

You can’t be a wowser at a birthday party.

Especially a kid’s birthday party!

Fruit just won’t cut it

So how have we managed to create less plastic for this year’s birthday party and not driven ourselves around the bend in the process?

 

  • We made our cake from scratch (no packet mix this year)
  • We are making our own lemonade (following this recipe here)
  • We are using brown paper bags for lolly bags.
  • We are giving our guests a packet of seeds instead of plastic toys. I’ve heard of people gathering books from second hand stores to give as gifts as well. 
  • Our cupcakes don’t have any wrapping as they were made in silicon cases.
  • We are making our own chocolates from chocolate bought at the whole food store.
  • We are making popcorn

 

What a wowser you say but Don’t worry, there are still lollies involved so there will be plastic – but just less of it. 

I also think our children adjust much better than we do as as long as there are friends, games and cake – the party will be a success.

Perhaps we need to refocus on how we celebrate parties so we can still party in the future.

 

How can you celebrate your next birthday with less plastic?

Two Summers by John Heffernan and Freya Blackwood

Two Summers by John Heffernan and Freya Blackwood is a moving and informative story told through the eyes of a young boy who lives on a farm through abundance and scarcity.


Nature rules the lives of so many whose livelihood depend on the great cycles of nature causing great joy and also great distress.

As most of the population live in cities and suburbs of those cities we really need to take the time to appreciate what goes on on those farms and how much weather patterns plays a role in what the farmers can and can’t do with produce and live stock.

The young boy in this story is waiting for his friend Rick to come and visit him again over summer and is making comparisons to last year when  the river flowed, the green grass, the number of animals around and the extra time they have to put into the farm when the grass isn’t there for the animals to feed on. He hopes that perhaps Rick will bring some rain with him.

Two Summers is a beautifully written book with soft and emotive illustrations. You can feel the emotions of the family through their daily life on the farm and begin to understand what farming life is like when times are tough.

So how can you link this book with your children and family to make more meaning? 

Geography: Taking a trip to the countryside is so important but if it can’t be done there are many local farms that are often within an hours drive of a major city.

Take some time to see where your food comes from and learn how the amount of rain, the fluctuations in temperature and the pressure from large multinationals plays a role on the lives of the people who provide food for us.

English: Look deeper into perspective – how would you feel if you lived on a farm? How does this boy feel?

Science: Look at the rainfall and temperatures of a large farming area where your food comes from. How do you think this climate effects produce?