Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Garlic: Product of China

Here's something that blows me away, something to get you flabbergasted: about 80% of garlic sold in the U.S. is from China. Eighty percent! I heard this statistic awhile back on CNBC and didn't believe it until I saw it. Next time you buy your little pack of three, check the label at the top: Product of China, it will say.

Obviously, the reason we import garlic here is because it's much cheaper than our U.S.-grown stuff. A pound of garlic from China can cost as little at 79 cents. A pound from the U.S. can cost as much as $4.99. The average American consumes about three pounds of garlic a year. Do the math and see if it makes sense for you to buy garlic from China. It's about $55 extra per year for a family of four to buy garlic from the U.S. versus China. Nevermind the environmental costs of shipping food all the way from the other side of the world... whew, I don't even want to think about it.

I have no problem with China. But I do have a problem with China's soil. Due to soil degradation (caused by rapid urbanization), farmers have resorted to using large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers to keep production levels up. Another result of rapid urbanization is industrial waste, of which there is plenty in China's air (and I imagine in the soil as well). We all know that garlic grows under the ground, rather than on top of it. This makes it more likely to soak up whatever "stuff" is in the soil.

They have a lot of mouths to feed in China, and a lot less of those mouths belong to farmers who know how to grow their own food. Which brings me to my point: growing our own. We've decided that we should grow as much of our own food as possible here at our lovely lizard lair. One of those foods is - you guessed it - garlic. I have read that I can plant a clove and get a whole head after about 90 days. Beautiful! I have also read that garlic and roses are great companion plants. If roses were my thing, I'd plant a few garlic cloves near them to keep aphids away. That's lovely, times two!

Garlic also goes well with a variety of other garden vegetables, like tomatoes. Apparently, a lot of insects/pests don't like the smell. Cool. I need all the help I can get. I'll be planting two or twenty here soon...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rockin' the Bottled Water

I think Chris Rock put it best in this short 1-minute video:

We stopped buying bottled water in our household over 2 years ago, when we invested $150 on a reverse-osmosis purifier and about $30 on some re-fillable bottles. There were many reasons why we chose to stop rockin' the bottled water:

  • It's expensive. At $.50 - $4 a bottle, it gets pretty out of hand after awhile.

  • It's heavy. We were tired of hauling bottled water crates out of the car and into the house.

  • I was reading bottled water labels and began to notice that most of the water comes straight from a public water source (i.e., city tap water) and has undergone purification very similar to what you get from a home reverse osmosis system.

  • Even though we recycled, we still felt it was extremely wasteful. Reducing consumption - or eliminating it entirely - is one step better than recycling.

  • I felt guilty, even before I watched the above video. I am aware that people around the world are dying of thirst because they have no access to clean water. In this country we are fortunate enough to have clean water available literally at our fingertips any time we want it, yet we go out of our way to buy it in bottled form.

  • And finally, I began to believe that it is impossible to get chemical-free water from a bottle. Most of these bottles have been transported and stored at high temperatures for months at a time. I noticed that my bottled water sometimes tasted "plasticky." I now know that this is because water will leach chemicals out of the plastic, especially if the bottle has been exposed to high temperatures (like in the car on a sunny day).

Anyone wanting to make a move to seriously increase their physical and financial health should stop rockin' the bottled water. It's such an easy fix. We purchased our filtration system from Costco and we use stainless steel water bottles. We are trying to phase out the use of plastic in our household as much as possible, due to its destructive effects on our bodies and landfills. And honestly, our filtered water tastes so much better than bottled water. We've had many visitors in our home ask us about our filtration system because they noticed the same thing.

Happy drinking!