Earth Day: My New Mission for Health & Life

Making a Pledge to Be a Better Steward of Health & Planet this Earth Day

Let’s just say this last year has been hard health-wise for me.  No major surgeries, no babies, but I have struggled.  Struggled to really get healthy – my allergies are beyond my control it seems, I am catching every bug munchkin brings home and some days, I just feel like, well … crap.  And, as happens when you feel this way, I have started to look around at things that just seemed invisible until now.

This is exactly what I am doing this Earth Day weekend – making a few new guidelines for my life to be a better steward of my body, my home and my family. My goal: phase out the chemicals, fake foods and stuff that, I suspect, is making us all sluggish and sick. The same ones that are destroying our soil, our air and making our food and health systems more and more dependent on mutant-like activities every day …

The idea to do this has been something I have been working toward for a while – buying more organic, looking at ingredients, learning more about the food, beauty and pharmaceutical industries so I can understand more about where my food and the products I use come from and how they are made.

This process was bolstered after hearing Joel Salatin speak here at Rollins College this past week.  If you have seen “Food Inc.”, you know who Joel Salatin is — he is a leading organic farmer and expert (a very entertaining one I might add) about modern farming and how our food system has become botched, overrun with bureaucracy and less-and-less natural each year …

He made me question even more … question a lot.  There are so many things that happen behind the scenes with our food (aka Starbucks putting beetle-derived food coloring in their smoothies) and the products we use for ourselves and our homes that we never know, unless we take the time to find out.

So, armed with this knowledge, while rubbing my head and trying to sooth my inflamed sinuses, I am focusing on a few new things this Earth Day weekend (and every day to come).  Yes, it will be hard, it will be time consuming and I am going to have to watch for the impact on my pocketbook, but it will be worth it if I feel better every day. So, in the months to come, I am going to ask questions, do research and share what I find with you in these areas …

1. Buying Food Locally & Seasonally

I have the seasonal thing down when it comes to taste (because, you know, a peach does not taste great in January), but when in the grocery store, working through my list and trying to keep my munchkin from jumping out of the cart and throwing fruit on the floor, I forget.  I end up buying simply what I want that week, or what is on sale.  So remembering the growing seasons is just a learning process for me.  Buying locally is a bit harder — schedules and budgets are tight (as they are for most families) and stopping anywhere but my one-stop-Publix-shop is tough. But I think there is a way to make shopping locally both budget-friendly and part of our routine by incorporating farmer’s markets and the local food co-op into our lives.  I’ll be back to sharing this one first …

2. Understanding what Medications Are Made Of/Looking for An Alternative

Each day I take about 4 allergy medications.  Yes, 4 – an inhaler, morning nasal spray, night nasal spray and a decongestant.  (Not to mention the stuff I need every once in a while for my chronic sinusitis – the stuff you have to sign your life away to buy at the pharmacy counter). These medicines are not only expensive, but they are chemicals – purely made in a lab. Nothing natural or naturally-occurring about them. I simply have to change that and find other options.  This one is a much harder and longer-term task, but I will find another way. I have to.

3. Reading and Researching Labels
So many stories recently have brought attention to the ingredients that are in our foods that we have no idea are in there – beetles and pink slime are two. This also goes for the lotions and soaps we put on our body, and the cleaning agents we use in our home, and the sprays we put on our yards. In his talk, Joel pointed out one main thing – we need to eat living food to live.  When we eat processed, chemical-laden and fake foods, we are essentially eating cadavers.

In all honesty, I now find it to be so scary and ironic that I instinctively pull munchkin away from touching the handle of a bathroom door in public restrooms, but I feed her (yes I admit it) chicken nuggets that have ingredients I can not pronounce.  This mission will be as tough as the others, but I hope to learn more and share what I find with you so we can all understand what is in what we eat, put on our skin and use in our homes.

4. Speaking Out
I am a podcast geek.  Yes, I spend my spare time listening to podcasts like This American Life and Planet Money.  The stories intrigue me. The economic facts enlighten me.  I just love them.  This past week’s This American Life was all about politicians and money — essentially it broke down the process of how PACS, super-PACs and lobbyists get politicians to vote their way.  We all know that this exists, we know that deals are made and politicians get money to fight to stay in power by pleasing those who have the money to give them.  It has worked this way for centuries (and not just here in America).

But one of the politicians interviewed on this show said something that caught my attention – the only time a politician will not take money from a PAC or lobbyist is if the PAC or lobbyist is trying to get the politician to do something “that just won’t work in their district.” Additionally, Joel shared much of how the various food corporations, chemical corporations and major growers are doing so much we do not know about … because, in my conclusion, we just don’t take the time to find out and tell our politicians it is unacceptable.

So, it is time to get the knowledge about how the FDA, USDA and major food, home and beauty manufacturers work together and create things that are harmful, both short-term and long-term, for our health, our families and our earth. It’s time for me (and you if you will read along and explore with me) to make their back-room deals on “things we don’t care about” unacceptable in all districts, unacceptable for all politicians and manufacturers.

As I wrote above, my dedication is to begin exploring all of these areas here on Live Pretty and to share with you what I find.  I am not a reporter, but I love research and I love knowledge.  I am not saying I am going to plant a garden, throw away my medicines, wear all organic clothes or give up everything processed.  But I want to learn more so I can make better choices and I can not wait to share what I find with you, and hope you will share what you find with me.

Happy Earth Day – to your and your family’s health, wellness and long lives on an Earth being taken care of by all of us.

Julia Montgomery Stewart

Nicknamed “Julia Child” at a young age, our own Julia is most at home in the kitchen. Lately, she has combined her culinary talents with a new hobby—fitness and healthy living. As a result, her recipes reflect an intriguing balance between eating well without sacrificing flavor. Outside the home, Julia is a consummate event planner, and spent the first ten years of her career as a publicist before expanding her portfolio of talents with the launch of Live Pretty in 2010. Balancing the busy demands of career and family, Julia lives with her husband and daughter in Orlando, Florida. In addition to her work in marketing, she serves a number of community organizations and initiatives in Central Florida.

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