Using Clean Green Cleaning Products

I have been looking for years for the perfect dish soap.   I have given up bleach, use vinegar and baking soda for most cleaning, use Soap Nuts for laundry, Dr. Bonners great soap for body wash…but had yet to find the best laundry soap.  Either they are too weak, don’t really cut grease. are expensive…or are made by companies like Clorox which I won’t support.

Then I found Planet Ultra Dish Soap.  It’s affordable, completely clean and green and IT WORKS! It REALLY cuts grease, doesn’t dry my hands and takes a very small amount to get the job done!

Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid

Find it ONLINE or locally here in Jacksonville at Grassroots Market in 5 Points has it.


Roasted Red Pepper Baba Ganoush

Basil1I’m making baba ganoush; surely one of the best dips on the planet.   I was talking to a friend just now who commented that she didn’t ever have time to cook.  But I thought about all the time in her life devoted to allergies, going to the doctor, feeling bad, lost productivity..low energy.  Ah yes, I remember all that.   It’s been 25 years ago that I got well from changing my diet and cannot imagine not taking the time to cook.  Breakfast every morning, dinner most night…

I roast a chicken once a week, make bone stocks every third week and freeze them.  Yogurt about every two weeks.  And these are foods that take you hovering over them; you put them, and they simmer or inoculate…or brine.  Whatever.  I make it work and multi-task while I do it. 

Breakfast; put the iron pan to heat, wash face, put moisturizer on…start getting ready. Back to kitchen to throw turkey bacon on; wash hair or work on computer.  Write, sit outside, water plants.  Whatever…                                                                       

Get lunch ready; whatever was dinner last night, plan leftovers on purpose, keep caramelized onions in fridge to dress up some broth with chicken, coconut milk yogurt, fruit.

Dinner…again, kinda in stages, get dinner started while doing other stuff, multi-tasking.  I am either cooking something that doesn’t take long (eggs, salmon, tuna, steak) or stuff that roasts or cooks longer (roasts, whole chickens)… So either way I just make it work. 

Roasted Red Pepper Baba Ganoush                                         Two Eggplants

1 large eggplant

8 ounce jar of roasted red pepper, not in oil

1 cup black olives

1 T. Roasted or fresh tahini

Handful of fresh basil

½ t. dried basil

¼ t. dried thyme

1 t. Grey Poupon Mustard

1 t balsamic vinegar

1/3 t. garlic granules

Salt and pepper to taste

Roast eggplant in oven until it implodes, about an hour at 350º. You can microwave it also, but I tend to cook in the oven more. I bake them when I roast a chicken, with whole sweet potatoes, all in the same roasting pan.

Remove meat from eggplant and place in food processor. Buzz briefly. Add all ingredients except olives and peppers. Blend, leaving it chunky. Then add veggies and buzz a few times, leaving the olives and peppers in pieces, NOT Blended.

Then add the basil and barely buzz until it looks chucky and still colorful.

This is great on chips, rice crackers, Ezekiel toast points, carrots, celery.

Fresh ThymeTonight, Baba Ganoush with Ezekiel Bread Toast Points

Great Day Off

Great day off, mowed the yard, hit the Grassroots Market for those awesome eggs, hit the library, then crazy day setting up 3 computers; one to work on my cookbook which has to be on Windows XP until I successfully migrate it all in to another format.  The other the work computer and then my laptop.  They all can share a larger monitor, dual on each machine.  Finally sweet set-up and organization…worked on book all day.  A 30 Day menu Plan, with recipes… 

Transplanted a hydrangea that needed more sunlight, picked a rainy day…easier on the plant, saves water.  A third of my back yard is ground cover as opposed to grass, it’s wonderful; doesn’t grow very high, just spreads, it’s soft, mostly some type of philodendron and ferns, and some type of ivy.  I love it AND I don’t have to water it!  The oaks trees are over most of it and it so easy to take care of.  I am planting a meadow garden in the front yard for many of the same reasons; mow once a year, low maintenance, stunningly beautiful…

I so miss my huge old growth hydrangeas from old house, but love the new place enough to make up for it.   The bougainvillea is spreading up the trellis, I’m letting it spread out more for now, letting the sun hit the front window all winter…then let it run up the trellis in spring, a green curtain.  Help keep the place cooler. 


The tomatoes are flowering like crazy, I started them late this year, moving and all…The succulents are spreading like crazy.  All this rain has been awesome…seems like a few years since we got this much steady rain…I am loving it. Rain barrels are full and have played in it a few is great!

Now roasting a chicken with butter and lemon zest, plenty of pepper, along with an eggplant for baba ganoush.  Tomorrow both chicken carcasses from this week will go to make stock. Yum… Putting coconut milk yogurt on, will wake up to it being ready.  Gonna be great with blueberries! 

Why Eating Organic is the Single Greenest Thing You Can Do


“If you do just one thing — make one conscious choice — that can change the world, go organic…. No other single choice you can make to improve the health of your family and the planet will have greater positive repercussions for our future.”

That’s a bold statement. Is eating organic more important than avoiding meat, stopping coal plants, biking instead of driving or donating to worthy causes?

Yes, declares Maria Rodale, the CEO of the Rodale Inc. publishing empire (Men’s Health, Prevention, Runners World) and author of the aptly named Organic Manifesto: How Organic Food Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World and Keep Us Safe (Rodale Books), from which the quote is drawn.

“There’s so many benefits that come from that one choice,” Maria explains. “You’ve removed a bajillion pounds of dangerous, synthetic, disease-causing environment-destroying chemicals from the soil, the water our bodies. We would all immediately be healthier. Our children would be healthier.”

Farmers and their families and farm workers would be better off, too, she goes on: “And our kids would be smarter. There are actually studies that show that a lot of these chemicals do reduce intelligence.”

I arranged a phone interview with Maria after meeting her last spring during Cooking for Solutions, a great conference and food fest on sustainable agriculture and fishing organized by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I’d read her book and wanted to delve deeper into the issues surrounding organics. Tomorrow, I’ll offer a dissenting view from Steve Savage, an agricultural consultant who is dubious about many of Maria’s claims.

Maria, who is 49, is the scion of America’s first family of organics. Her grandfather, J.I. Rodale, started Organic Farming and Gardening magazine, which is now known as Organic Gardening, in 1942. He put his ideas into practice on a 60-acre farm near Emmaus, Pa. She was raised nearby. “I grew, I weeded, I picked, I cooked,” she said. “I was very aware that we were a little different from everyone else, at least once I started going to school.” The family farm became a tourist destination. “For many people, it was like a pilgrimage,” she remembers. Those were the days when organic food could be purchased only in health or natural food stores.

Today, while the acreage farmed organically remains small — less than 1 percent of U.S. farmland — organics are a big business. U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010, according to the Organic Trade Association. Organic fruits and vegetables represent more than 10 percent of all sales of fruits and vegetable, the group says.

book coverConventional foods are worse for us than we realize, Maria argues. The government responds to problems after the fact and is overly influenced by big agricultural firms, which also shape university research. In her book, she writes:

There is enough evidence to know now that synthetic chemicals are destroying our health and our ability to reproduce and, thus, our ability to survive as a species. Agricultural chemicals have statistically and significantly been implicated in causing all sorts of cancers, behavioral problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, Parkinson’s disease, reduced intelligence, infertility, miscarriage, diabetes, infant deformities and low birth weight.

No specific studies are cited in the book, so I asked Maria for a couple of references. She sent me a link to Beyond Pesticides, website, where a blog with headlines like Low Doses of Pesticides Put Honey Bees at Risk. Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York provides a fact-sheet about pesticides here which says, among other things, that

Pesticides have been shown to cause a wide range of adverse effects on human health including acute and chronic injury to the nervous system, lung damage, injury to the reproductive organs, dysfunction of the immune and endocrine systems, birth defects, and cancer; these effects can manifest as acutely toxic effects, delayed effects, or chronic effects.

For its part, the agricultural industry says pesticide residues on food are harmless and regulated by the government.

The picture is darker when it comes to farm workers. A long-term government study of more than 80,000 farmers and their wives from Iowa and North Carolina, called the Agricultural Health Study, offers some warnings. While the farmers studied are generally healthier than the general population, pesticide exposure has been linked to Parkinson’s disease, prostate cancer, lung disease and some brain disorders. (Details here.) One study found that farmers who “used pesticides longer and more often said they had more neurological symptoms than those who had not used pesticides or had used them less frequently and for fewer years.”

What’s more, anecdotal evidence on the impact of synthetical chemicals on birth defects is downright scary, as Barry Estabrook reported in Tomatoland. [See my July blogpost, Rotten tomatoes.] Tom Philpott of Mother Jones recently reported on methyl iodide, which is sprayed on strawberry fields and has been called “reliably carcinogenic” by the Pesticide Action Network.

That’s probably reason enough, for many of us, to choose organic. But what about the costs? Maria makes a couple of good points in that regard. First, she says: “If you can, grow a garden, which is fun and good. It’s great exercise, and kids love it.” If not, shop carefully and cook more: “Eat less processed food. Do more cooking. Every step of processing food add more cost.” In Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen, she offers gardening tips, recipes and political commentary:

Stop wasting American tax dollars supporting, subsidizing, and encouraging the toxic chemical and GMO farming that are promoted by unethical companies who spread lies and poison around the world in order to line their own pockets. We’ve been ripped off and contaminated long enough.

I asked Maria about evidence that organic growers are less productive that conventional farmers. That’s not so, she says, noting that most big farms in the U.S. produce corn and soy for non-food use.

“Most people don’t eat that corn and soy,” she says. “It’s made into high fructose corn syrup. It’s made into feed for factory grown animals. It’s made into biofuels that do not feed people.” She’s right about that — more than a third of the US corn crop goes into the making of ethanol. Something’s wrong, she says, when “a farmer who is growing chemical corn is getting subsidized and a farmer who switches to growing food that people need to eat gets no help whatsoever.”

What do you think? Should we be subsidizing organic farmers? Or not?

Come back tomorrow to learn why Steve Savage believes that organic food, whatever its virtues, can’t meet the world’s growing demand for food.

Maria Rodale photo by Cedric Angeles Photography.