Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Natural Alternatives

I’ve been watching all the news and paranoia about radiation going around since this unfortunate accident over in Japan. Yes, I said paranoia. I’m going to put it to you as simply as I can. The defecation has impacted the oscillation and there’s not a thing you can do about it. At this point, radiation, in several forms, has been detected everywhere in the US except the New England states.

The amounts that have been detected really are microscopic and essentially are nothing to worry about. That said ~ no amount of radiation is good for you. All you can do is purge your body of what it will absorb. You can do this with chemicals that are not good for you or you can do this with natural substances that are nothing but good for you. The choice up to you.

Read my earlier post about Potassium Iodide. Click here.

The following list foods can help the human body fight radiation damage. Using these foods as part of your regular diet can help lower your chances of radiation damage.
• Kelp
• Rosemary
• Spirulina
• Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Let’s consider each of these, one at a time.

The following is from Marie Mulrooney in the article “Benefits of Sea Kelp Tablets”.

“Sea kelp, or simply "kelp", belongs to the family Laminariaceae and comes in several varieties, all edible, sometimes known as kombu, konbu, wakame, haidai or qundaicai. Kelp is available in a variety of forms, including cooked or raw as food, in capsules, powder or tablets. Tablets are a particularly suitable way of taking kelp if you do not like the taste of it as food. No matter how you consume kelp, it has numerous benefits.”

Kelp is:
• Rich in vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K which all help boost the human immune system.
• Rich in the minerals iodine, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, silicon, chromium, selenium, barium and iron, out of which high iodine can assist in making thyroid hormones and potentially boost low thyroid function, though too much iodine may interfere with a normally functioning thyroid gland.
• It also contains alginate, agar and carrageenan gels, which some say help stimulate gastrointestinal health and aid digestion.
Marie Mulrooney also says that there are other health benefits of kelp including “helping to loosen extra mucous in the body, lowering blood pressure, treating arthritis and rheumatism and stimulating powerful skin healing thanks to its germanium content, which boosts immune function and combats cancer. Kelp may also be used to help reduce the effects of radiation and chemotherapy on the body.”

According to Barbara L. Minton in her article “Rosemary Found to Offer Best Protection against Radiation Poisoning” there are compounds in rosemary that fight against mutagenic effects of radiation.

She states that scientists in Spain found that “nothing can fight radiation damage to micronuclei like this simple garden herb. They noted that ionizing radiation causes the massive generation of free radicals that induce cellular DNA damage. When the compounds were added after gamma-irradiation treatment, the protective effects relied not on scavenging ability, but on activity against free radicals already present in the cells. The fact that carnosic acid and carnosol found in rosemary are fat soluble allows them to provide highly significant protective anti-mutagenic activity. Even the most powerful water-soluble antioxidants lack the capacity to protect against gamma ray induced damage. This study can be found in the British Journal of Radiology, February 2 edition.”

The Institute of Radiation Medicine in Minsk proved that children affected by radiation poisoning from Chernobyl who took 5 grams of spirulina a day for 45 days, experienced enhanced immune systems, T-cell counts and reduced radioactivity.

As niacin, also known as B3, is water soluble and can’t be stored in the body. It is eliminated during urination, which means that you need it in your daily diet. It has been proven to be an extraordinarily effective catalyst for the discharging of radiation.

Niacin can be found in the following foods:
• Leafy Vegetables
• Broccoli
• Tomatoes
• Carrots
• Dates
• Sweet Potatoes
• Asparagus
• Avocados
• Dairy Products
• Eggs
• Fish - Tuna, Salmon
• Nuts
• Wholegrain
• Legumes
• Saltbush Seeds
• Mushrooms
• Brewer’s Yeast
• Enriched Breads and Cereals supply some Niacin
• Coffee and Tea also supply some Niacin

Now you too can make an educated choice.

Choose wisely.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Garden?

I was recently asked, “Why are you going through so much just to have a garden? It’s so much work, you need so many supplies, and you can get all that stuff you want to grow at the grocery store”. This lead me to contemplate why I want to garden.

There are many reasons to garden some are highly personal and some just plain make sense. Yes, it is work. Yes, as a first timer I needed supplies. Yes, I can get all that stuff at the grocery store. All that is very true but so are the following. Gardening can be a community or family activity—no one is too old or too young to take part. Gardening helps you to be healthier it provides physical activity-- bending, stretching, twisting, turning, lifting, pushing. Gardening provides a food source you can be sure of—if you grow it you know exactly what is in it. Gardening provides fresh foods free of preservatives and other harmful chemicals without taking a huge bite out of your grocery budget. Have you ever noticed how something labeled at natural or sodium free nearly always costs more? Gardening can also do a few things for your city, state, country and planet.

It can lessen the burden on your local infrastructure, the more folks who do it, the smaller the burden. Growing produce locally reduces the need for shipping and leads to less use of fossil fuels. Growing in your own yard requires no travel at all. This combined with the fact that plants produce oxygen leads to cleaner air. Cleaner air and fresher foods lead to healthier people. Healthier people have more energy. More energy means greater productivity and less illness. It is my belief that this leads to higher production and better quality in other areas of our lives.

In addition for me gardening provides peace of mind, a creative outlet, and a way to connect with the natural world we live in. I look forward to the changes in seasons, to planting, growing, and harvesting my garden. I even look forward to the winter months in which I plan next year’s garden. I enjoy the feel of the soil in between my fingers, sun on my face and the wind in my hair. Our garden nourishes not only our bodies but our lives. For us gardening is an activity we do together, as a family. Everyone gets a say in what is planted and works at making it productive. My children know the value of food and the farmer who grows it. It cuts out trips to the store, allows for a selection of fresh high quality foods at a moments notice, and saves us valuable time and money. As I stated previously many of these reasons to garden are highly personal and some just plain make sense. There are probably also twice as many excuses as to why you are not gardening.

As for the excuses, it is hard to see the big picture sometimes, my suggestion is to find a simple reason to garden that resonates with you. For me it is the fact that it saves money and helps us eat healthier foods. If you don’t think you can have a garden, stop right there. All of the following are excuses--- “I don’t have a yard.” “I don’t have time.” “My apartment is too small.” “My HOA won’t allow it.” These are things that are true only if you agree they are. There are a thousand other excuses as well but these are the major ones so we’ll go over them.

“I don’t have a yard.”
You don’t need a yard. Just about anything you could want to grow for food can be grown in a container of some sort, even fruit trees (most will only grow as far as their roots will allow). I even had a friend a few years ago who had a corn stalk growing in a ten gallon bucket in each corner of her living room. You can grow herbs in mini-greenhouses in your kitchen and tomatoes hanging from the ceiling. All you really need is an acceptable amount of soil for what you are planting. It will say on the packet usually—look at the final thinned spacing for the plant and how it grows (is it short, bushy, tall or a vine). Other than that all you need is light and water.

“I don’t have time.”
Sure you do. It really takes no time at all to take care of a plant. Of course that really depends on how many you want to have but that’s solvable by just a few to begin with. Start off with the example above. Grow a few herbs and a tomato plant in your kitchen. An hour on a weekend to plant your seeds and less than five minutes each day to water them is all it takes.

“My apartment is too small.”
Once again, see the above suggestions. A plant here and there throughout your place will not take up a huge amount of room. In our last place we had plants on the fireplace mantle, one on the balcony, a couple others on the tops our six foot book shelves. If you put out knick knacks you could always replace one or two with a plant. You can also hang a few from the ceiling in the corners of a room. This works particularly well with things you see advertised as hanging already such as strawberries and tomatoes.

“My HOA won’t allow it.”
There are several ways around this. Most HOAs will allow some type of small ornamental gardening space for flowers and maybe small bushes, instead of doing this use that space for edibles. There is actually a huge selection of edible ornamentals and a whole industry surrounding edible landscaping. Kale is sort of a loose leaf cabbage. It comes in a few different colors and you can actually see it used in the small growing plot in front of almost any courthouse in America. Carrots make wonderful border plants and can be mixed in with some flowers.

Another solution to any of these problems would be to look for a local community garden. They exist in almost every city. Sometimes they are small and sometimes they can be quite large. I’ve seen huge ones upwards of three to five acres. If you don’t find one perhaps you could start one yourself. Find a friend or two to help you out, put up requests at some of your local stores, community centers, and internet sites; approach businesses that may have an empty lot or even your local government to see what they may have available.

There is one excuse I won’t accept and refuse to go over in detail however, because if you use it, it means you have no desire whatsoever to actually have a garden. That is “I don’t know how.” I cannot accept this one as an excuse, only laziness, as I didn’t know how either but there are a multitude of resources available. My number one resource has been public libraries. They provided access to not only written materials but to the internet as well. Taking the time to visit a local nursery for an afternoon can give you more than enough information to get started. Then there is also the path of simple experimentation and just going for it. All you need is the desire to get started.

Simply put, in my opinion, as a society we cannot afford to ignore this almost free resource. It is one of the first baby steps that need to be taken in order to help ourselves and our planet. If you’ve never had fresh produce go out and find your nearest farmer’s market and buy a few tomatoes, some string beans and some lettuce. There is nothing in the world like fresh grown vegetables and you’ll be glad you did. However, the long and short of it in a nutshell, is that gardening can not only give you a healthier diet but it can also save you money and give you a sense of accomplishment.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The World Is Crazy Enough As It Is

I would like to take this time to talk about paranoia. I'm not talking about the donning of tinfoil hats or moving into the nearest cave or even stocking up on cases and cases of ammunition.

I'm talking about something I have been seeing over the past few days that is even more sinister. It's worse because it sneaks up on you and suddenly you realize what's going on and it's too late, you've made a fool of yourself. I'm talking about acting on sensationalist media stories without checking into the facts first.

Not only can it make a fool of you but it can kill you! The one thing I've been seeing is paranoia over radiation contamination via the jet-stream from Japan. I have been hearing a lot about KI pills, which is potassium iodide. I will share with you some information taken from the CDC website, linked here.

First of all, it can ONLY protect the thyroid, nothing else. Also, if your thyroid is already 'contaminated' it cannot be reversed by KI. Secondly, it can only protect you from radioactive iodine and even then it may not work 100%. Taking a higher dose of KI, or taking KI more often than recommended, does not offer more protection and can cause severe illness or death.

According to the FDA, the following doses are appropriate to take after internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine:

•Adults should take 130 mg (one 130 mg tablet OR two 65 mg tablets OR two mL of solution).

•Women who are breastfeeding should take the adult dose of 130 mg.

•Children between 3 and 18 years of age should take 65 mg (one 65 mg tablet OR 1 mL of solution). Children who are adult size (greater than or equal to 150 pounds) should take the full adult dose, regardless of their age.

•Infants and children between 1 month and 3 years of age should take 32 mg (½ of a 65 mg tablet OR ½ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing infants and children.

•Newborns from birth to 1 month of age should be given 16 mg (¼ of a 65 mg tablet or ¼ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing newborn infants.

As always, before taking anything, you should do your research. I have passed on to you some information but please, visit the CDC website or the FDA website for complete information.

Now, if you really are worried about radiation contamination, you can visit this page on the CDC's website: Shelter-in-Place in a Radiation Emergency or Evacuation in a Radiation Emergency.

If you are looking for supplies or emergency kits, please visit my website: The Millionth Monkey. Here you will find supplies, kits (both bug out and shelter-in-place) long term food storage. Do not worry about what you neighbors or friends think. When the time comes (that's when not if) you will be the one prepared.

All of my own websites have changed. Here are my new companion sites:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Urban (or other) Homesteading

First of all, I'd like to welcome you to this companion blog to my monthly newsletter of the same name. This blog will allow me to give weekly updates and to share any new pertinent information I come across through-out the month.

Now on to the subject at hand. Today is a "Call to Action" day. It is the second such day and is in response to the trademarking of the terms "Urban Homestead"
and "Urban Homesteading". All bloggers and anyone with a website who believes in the lifestyle of homesteading in general, not just the 'Urban' kind have been asked to post a blog or article about said subject using said terms.

I happen to be very rural myself. I live in one of those 'blink-and-you-miss-it' towns (which is actual more of a village or hamlet) that is fifty miles from the nearest major city and twenty miles from a large town. I do, however, rent and I actually live 'down town' (as tiny as it is). This equates to at least somewhat urban. We like to call ourselves Rural-urban, or sometimes sub-suburban, Homesteaders.

This is actually our first year in our attempt to be self sufficient. It can be rough when you're working on a shoe string. Rough or easy, though, we are looking forward to it. Our landlord has plowed us a space for our garden and we already have garlic and tomatoes sprouting indoors. We have decided to use a variety of gardening methods including raised-bed, hill and terraced. We are using re-purposed and recycled materials whenever and wherever we can. We buy local as much as possible, as well, in an effort to support our community.

I am in the process of growing a website as well. It's purpose is to provide supplies and knowledge for self sufficiency, self sustainability and preparedness for sudden (expected and unexpected) situations. Please feel free to visit the website often as it is constantly being updated with new and better supplies and as much information as I can find and share. It also helps us fund this grandiose dream we have. You can visit by clicking on the title of this post. Or you can click here.

All of my own websites have changed. Here are my new companion sites: