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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Today... what CAN we eat?

There has been much discussion lately about Monsanto, genetically modified crops (GMC), and various potentially hazardous products (such as RoundUp) designed to by-pass the GMCs but kill just about everything else. A long list of US companies using genetically modified ingredients has been released, and it was overwhelming, because it included the names of so many common brands, used daily in so many households. While the list is useful, it might be more helpful to know what we can eat and what we can use, so that we could zero in on the right things.

Here is an excellent article, outlining nine simple steps to avoiding genetically modified foods. Not every area has its own farmers' markets and not everyone has the space at home to grow their own produce. Understandable. There are two solutions to this. One - look for a local organic store such as Earth Fare and Whole Foods. Yes, some things will be more expensive compared to conventional brands. I suggest an exploratory trip to begin with - with a list of your staple items in hand, and prices written down to compare.

Once you know the cost, sit down with your family and take a long hard look at your budget. What can be cut? What can be reduced? Do the kids really need expensive cell phones with unlimited plans or do they just need enough to call you when they need to be picked up from school? What's more important - the uber cable package with gazillion channels you never watch, or the quality of food for you and your family? I am not saying this will be easy. This will require discipline and commitment from all family members. If you have young children, don't underestimate them - you'd be surprised how much a five-year old can understand, if explained patiently and intelligently.

If organic grocery stores are your only option, stick to the shopping list religiously. No "spur of the moment" purchases. Eventually, once you get into the swing of things, you'll be able to relax the rules a little bit. But you must establish the habit first - and that usually takes at least a month.

An alternative to organic stores and farmers' markets is a network of organic farmers shipping produce straight to people's homes. This service is not available everywhere, but here are the links worth checking out to see if this is an option for you.

- Healthy World Organics

- Farm Fresh to You

- It's Organic!

If you can grow your own foods, double check your seed and live plant sellers. Some of them are, unfortunately, genetically modified. Here is a very comprehensive source listing the seed sellers who signed the Safe Seed Pledge to not sell or promote genetically modified seeds. Use this list as your guide when shopping for seeds for your garden.

Of course, once you have a garden, there has to be a way to keep it safe from weeds and pests. I wish I could tell you it was easy, but I can't. I have a garden myself, and "easy" does not enter that equation - especially if you make a point of avoiding the scary chemicals. Fortunately, there is a lot of good advice out there and some fairly effective weed and pest control products that only use natural ingredients. Here are some articles and products you may want to consider.

- 10 homemade weed killers (I really enjoyed this article, because it approaches the subject with some humor. The bit about the art of weed pulling and learning to love them is particularly apt.)

- Natural pesticides: death by mint oil

- 8 homemade lawn and pest remedies

- Gardeners' Supply pest control. I use a lot of stuff from Gardeners'. From the organic pest control department, I have used fruit fly traps, the fake hornets' nest, the portable mosquito repeller, the Mosquito Beater granules, the all-purpose fertilizer and the mosquito control rings. They all work, they are all 100% organic and they are all excellent.

Putting Monsanto & Co out of business is not going to be an easy task. Do not wait for the government to pass laws to restrict the dangerous chemicals and GMCs. In the US, we have a very environmentally-conscious President working against the hostile Congress that includes many people calling global climate change and GMC crisis a "liberal hoax". So, even with the President's best efforts, it may take years to get laws into place that control these things.

The only way to put the people poisoning our crops and us out of business is to stop giving them business. You know what to do. So, do the right thing.

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