Day 4: DIY Dishwashing Detergent

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I’ve been wanting to try out a recipe for homemade Dishwashing detergent for several months so this week I finally bit the bullet and gave it a try. I don’t have a source for the recipe below, but feel free to search on Pinterest – there are hundreds if pins featuring variations on this same recipe.

DIY Dishwashing Detergent:
2 Cups Borax
2 Cups Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)
1 Cup Kosher Salt
1 Cup LemiShine

The actual process for making the detergent was incredibly easy. I even ended up with enough to make a double batch although it still didn’t even begin to fill the canister I was using to store it in.

When it comes to using the product I’ve been pretty disappointed. It’s a little hard to see in the picture below, but the spoon on the left has a large spot near the tip. You guessed it – that’s the spoon that was washed with the DIY detergent. The spoon on the right was cleaned with our normal Cascade liquid detergent.

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Every load of dishes that we washed with the DIY detergent required a very thorough pre-wash before loading it in the dishwasher which really defeats the purpose if having a dishwasher at all. It also became rock hard within a day or two making it very difficult to scoop out and use. After repeated spotty loads Mr. L has vetoed any future use if this product, so I guess I’ll have to come up with some other use for the fruits of my experiment.

The real question is: ‘Is this really even a green product?’

Honestly, I’m not sure. The Borax box states that it has been around since 1891 so it certainly shouldn’t feature any of the new synthetic chemicals that litter most modern products. The LemiShine bottle doesn’t include an ingredients list but it does state that it’s “made with real fruit acids and natural citrus oils.” That sounds promising but I’d imagine there are other ingredients and there’s no telling how ‘green’ they are.

When I compare these ingredients to Cascade, it only lists 2 ingredients: Sodium Silicate and Chlorine Bleach. We all know what bleach is, and a quick Google search revealed that Sodium Silicate is a chemical compound commonly known as liquid glass that was discovered in 1818. It’s commonly used in auto repair, home brewing (to clarify beer and wine), and even as an adhesive and fire-retardant.

So what do you think; is they DIY product any more green than Cascade? Is there a greener alternative I haven’t thought of? (Please don’t tell me to just wash my dishes by hand. I often do so but there are times when a dishwasher is necessary and that’s what I’m trying to figure out).

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Day 3: Striking A Balance

I am only 3 days into this endeavor and already I find myself rethinking my dietary choices. Last night Baby L and I went to my parents’ house for dinner. By most standards it was a healthy meal of salmon, cheddar loaf, green salad and Waldorf salad. However, this time I couldn’t help but to check where the salmon came from, was it farm-raised? (I don’t know, and yes – if you were wondering).

It seems that the more I learn about whole living the more I hesitate to consume anything that isn’t whole. I know that we can’t make this change over night. There is to much to learn and to much processed food already in the house that I’m not prepared to just throw out. If we were to completely throw ourselves into this endeavor and give up everything we used to eat, we would probably give up on the whole thing within a week. But, as much I know that it will be better in the long run for us to make this transition gradually, it’s tough to ignore the things I used to be ignorant about.

For example, I purchased some brats when I visited the farm on Thursday and I’m sure that we will eat them the first night Mr. L gets home. However, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do about buns? Do I go to the store and buy a package like I always have? Should I try to bake my own buns from scratch. I don’t have a clue how to do that, and even if I did I only have normal white flour at home and I’m pretty sure that I should be using whole wheat flour if not something even less processed than that. Where on earth do I get non-GMO whole wheat? As you can see it’s easy to get overwhelmed!

I think the only thing I can do is try to make the healthiest choices possible at the grocery store and then slowly work my way on from there. Who knows – by this time next year maybe I really will be grinding my own wheat and making my own hotdog buns!

Day 2: The Raw Milk Experiment

Raw milk may be one of the most controversial food products available in the US. In the course of my research I have tried to explore both sides of the argument, although it is difficult to distinguish between propaganda and true research.

According to the FDA;

“Milk and milk products provide a wealth of nutrition benefits. But raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to you and your family. According to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 1993 and 2006 more than 1500 people in the United States became sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk. In addition, CDC reported that unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause foodborne illness and results in 13 times more hospitalizations than illnesses involving pasteurized dairy products.

Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep, or goats that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. This raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses.

These harmful bacteria can seriously affect the health of anyone who drinks raw milk, or eats foods made from raw milk. However, the bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous to people with weakened immune systems, older adults, pregnant women, and children. In fact, the CDC analysis found that foodborne illness from raw milk especially affected children and teenagers.”

http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/consumers/ucm079516.htm

That definitely sounds scary, and after reading it I can’t imagine why someone would want to drink raw milk, but like anything else there is always another side of the story. Many proponents of raw milk believe that it contains all of its original vitamins, proteins, minerals and enzymes required for proper digestion. They claim that pasteurization kills most of the beneficial ingredients and then replaces them with synthetic versions. Furthermore most milk that you find at the grocery store comes from cows that are confined in tiny pens. Because of their cramped quarters they become ill more easily causing them to need more antibiotics which filter through their milk and into us, the consumer. They may be given genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormones (although I have yet to find a store-brand of milk sold near me that doesn’t claim to be RBGH free). What I find to be particularly ironic is that when the cream is taken out of the milk to create a lower fat content, they have to replace it with oxidized cholesterol to bring back the creamy texture. This is the bad cholesterol that you hear so much about in the news.

Well, now I’m torn. They both seem like compelling arguments. I don’t want to get sick but on the other hand I never realized how artificial and unnatural pasteurized milk can be. I certainly wouldn’t give unpasteurized milk to someone who is immune-compromised, but as a healthy adult trying to eliminate artificial products from my life perhaps I should give it a try. I think it’s time for a taste test.

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I’ve prepared 2 glasses of milk (pictured above). On the left is a glass of raw milk, on the right Publix brand 1% milk that we traditionally purchase. A visual inspection reveals that the raw milk has a golden tint and a layer of froth on the surface. The Publix milk is pure white and has a slightly more watery appearance. There was also a distinct difference in taste. The raw milk had a richer, creamier texture and a slightly grassy taste. It isn’t unpleasant but it does bring to mind the flavor that certain foods acquire when they have been left too long next to produce in the refrigerator. Of course the processed milk tastes like your average 1% milk. Overall I think that the raw milk might take a little getting used to but with time I would probably find it preferable. Until then it certainly isn’t a difficult swap in my diet.

Day 1: We Join The Farm

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Today was the day. After months of talking about it, researching and of course extensively pinning, I finally bit the bullet and purchased our farm membership. Although this might seem like the beginning of our journey, it all began last November <Cue Flashback Music>. That was when my husband and I learned that we were expecting our first child. I very quickly learned that when you are pregnant there is a list about a mile long of things that you can’t do, can’t eat, can’t even be in the same room with! It was definitely a learning experience but I was willing to sacrifice whatever was necessary to ensure that my baby was safe and healthy.

For the first time in my life I was reading labels and taking serious consideration to the products that I put in and on my body. I gave up my favorite anti-wrinkle cream (hey – you can’t start to early!), because of the AHA’s it contained and I gave up lunch meats because of the Nitrates. At first I was put-off by the price of the organic products at the grocery store. They seemed so expensive! I just had a hard time believing that it really made that much of a difference.

My precious baby boy was born in July and the moment I laid eyes on him any lingering misgivings vanished. I didn’t care how much work it would take or how much money it would cost, if we could swing it then I would do everything I could to ensure that this child wasn’t exposed to any more chemicals than was absolutely avoidable. Luckily I’ve chosen to breast-feed so we don’t have to worry about the chemicals and additives in formula, but anything that I consume affects him. That’s why we got up this morning and drove 15 min. down the road to My Dad & Me Family Farms in Powder Springs, GA.

You might have guessed from the name that this is a family operation. What you might not have guessed is that they are firmly committed to keeping their products as green as possible. Their cows are exclusively grass fed, and the animals that consume grains are all fed organic, non-GMO grains. All the animals are cage-free and live in comfortable, humane conditions. Evidently I’m not the only one who finds this appealing, because they have had a waiting list for membership since June.

The membership itself is a $35.00 annual fee, and then there are different membership plans that require you to spend a certain amount each week. We have joined on the Gold Plan which requires us to purchase at least $25.00 worth of groceries each week, and includes access to fresh milk and eggs. Some lower level plans do not include milk and eggs because those seem to be the products with the highest demand.

Today I purchased, some pork brats (My hubby, Mr. L, LOVES Brats), some grass-fed ground beef, a jar of raw milk and a dozen eggs. Tomorrow I will review my first experience with raw milk, but for now Baby L is crying so I must go. Are any of you members of a farm or co-op, have you made a transition to whole foods? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.