Health

A Whole-Foods Lifestyle Can Be Affordable

By Patrice Lockert Anthony

basketA whole-foods lifestyle is possible for low-income individuals and families. Good health, vibrant health, begins with whole foods. Most of our grandparents cooked, gardened, and ate what was available. They didn't cook meals to satisfy each person in the family. Their children ate what was prepared.

So many things are tied to vibrant nutrition. Children do better at school. Adults do better at work. A whole host of medical conditions (obesity, hypertension, diabetes, etc.), which often plague the poor, are positively impacted by a whole-foods diet, but we have to want it. We have to want it for ourselves and for our families. We have to want change. Change that incorporates mostly whole foods will change lives.

Cost-wise, we are negatively affected if we buy convenience foods, eat out a lot, don't cook from scratch, don't plan meals, don't garden, and don't have a mindful food practice in place. Eating anything that has been boxed, packaged, cooked, or served to you or for you hikes up the price of our food costs. Period. Avoid this option whenever possible if money is an issue. Eating out is an obvious source of hiked-up food costs. If we're really trying to keep a lid on those costs, this should be used as a rare treat.

Cooking meals from scratch is the best thing we can do. These meals are more flavorful. They have a better chance of including the whole family in the process of meal planning. Cooking from scratch helps to ground the idea that good food and good food preparation matter. We get to experiment with taste, color, texture, spices, seasonings. More than anything else, if we want to change how we and our families view food, we'll need to be hands-on as often as possible. It matters.

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A Quiet Room of One's Own

By Sarah K. Highland

Highland1
The interior of the author’s house, which she designed and built. One inch of sand fills spaces between sleepers on the second floor to reduce noise. The author’s sister measures for floorboards. Also notice the thick exterior walls, which also reduce sound transmission. Photo provided

When people visit my house, they often comment appreciatively on how quiet it is. Peace and quiet can be hard to come by in a world of traffic, cell phones, and TV's at the gas station. Restful silence is important to our well-being, yet when we design and remodel our homes, this essential quality is often overlooked. My house has a number of conscious design choices that enhance the peacefulness of the space, most of which can be employed in other houses and apartments.

The walls of my home are thick and massive. If you cut out a chunk of wall and lifted it, it would be heavy. Most modern American construction is made of what is called light construction: thin, lightweight wooden framing members (studs) with lightweight insulation and wall coverings (plywood and drywall). Our houses are lightweights compared to traditional and modern European construction of stone, brick, and mud or, nowadays, concrete. My house hearkens back to the European tradition, with its exterior walls made of packed straw mixed with clay dirt, built a foot thick.

Massive walls don't let sound through easily. While exterior walls need their emphasis on insulation — mine have far more straw than clay in them for that reason — interior walls have no such need: the heavier and denser, the better. If you have a wall dividing a bedroom from a TV room, for instance, making it from bricks or cob (sand-clay-straw mix) will help to protect the sleepers from unwanted noise. With existing walls, you can add multiple layers of drywall or thick plaster to each side, building up mass. Some old luxury apartment buildings in New York City were actually built with thick walls between living spaces, packed floor to ceiling with heavy dirt.

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  • By Sylvester Johnson, Ph.D.
    Accelerating Changes
    Consumers drive change. Growing numbers of consumers are saving money by increasing energy efficiency, and paying a reasonable premium to support the transition to sustainable energy sources. As the market for renewable energy grows, more businesses will invest in production. Larger scale production will increase efficiency and reduce costs for even greater numbers of consumers.


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