Why We DON'T Pay Enough For Our Food.

I've got a confession to make...

Up until last year, I did all my shopping based on price. I was completely proud of what a bargain-hunter I was, and that I could manage to feed my family of 3 (at the time), on $100 per week, including meat, fruit, vegetables and nappies.

This equated to roughly 1/10th of our total weekly income.

I bought 99c packets of white pasta without a smudgeon of a second thought, grabbed loaves of 99c bread.

I knew they weren't exactly healthy. But I didn't think they were overly unhealthy, either...

As I've read more and "educated" myself (None of this stuff was taught in school. Why, oh why not?!) I've had a change of heart about being a bargain-hunter.

I've come to realise that the shelf price in the supermarket doesn't reflect the true price of a product - not even the half of it.

Cheap food does not reflect the huge loss of biodiversity that intensive farming methods have caused, or huge swathes of rainforests - home to native tribes for thousands of years - lopped down to make way for those awfully useful soybean crops, that seem to end up in just about every processed food on the shelves, in some form or another.

Or the soils, completely destroyed of nutrients because the ground is forced to produce three harvests a year, instead of one, to maximise output. When that soil cannot produce any more, it is simply excavated out, and a new lot brought in.

It doesn't take into account the millions of illegal immigrants around the world, exploited and used to prop up the system, working long hours for pittance (if they're lucky), and living in absolute hell-ish conditions. If you doubt me, go and read Felicity Lawrence's book "Not On The Label" and be horrified over the injustice going on right under our noses.

The international slave trade is alive and well. It just has a different face now.

It gives no hint to hens living (existing) in less than an A4 page amount of space, fed a constant of supply of antibiotics and hormones in their drinking water, and never seeing the light of day, or feeling the grass beneath their feet.

Or hens bred specially to have breasts that are so disproportionately large (because we all want to eat chicken breast) that by the time they are killed, most birds are lame or cannot even hold themselves up.

Nor does it tell of intensive farmed livestock, like cows, being fed other ground up animals for protein, to make them grow as quickly as possible. Or standing knee-deep in their own urine and faeces.

Not so much as a newspaper headline, of third-world countries forced to open up their markets in the name of "globalisation", only to see their livelihoods and land swallowed up by giant transnational conglomerates who use up the resources, wreak havoc, send local farmers out of business and when the land can no longer cope, they pack up and leave.

Don't be fooled. Free trade does not equal fair trade.

The shelf price doesn't reflect the millions of tonnes of sugar and coffee dumped on the world markets by European countries, or corn and soy from the U.S, at artifically low prices because they've been produced with the help of massive government subsidies.

Nor does it reflect the third world farmers who grow those same products (without any subsidies) on land that is often better suited to those commodities, yet are gradually forced out of business because they simply cannot compete.

It certainly doesn't hint at the explosion in health-care costs due to "affluenza" diseases like hypertension, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and the likes. Or the parents who are continually struggling with hyperactive and difficult children, because of additives and colours in foods.

The point I'm trying to make is: the shelf price rarely (if ever) reflects the true price of a product. If we want to continue buying cheap food, you can be sure we are going to be paying for it in other areas. In higher taxes, loss of languages and cultures and biodiversity, loss of small businesses and family farms, loss of soil quality, loss of nutrition, loss of communities...Some of these are priceless!

Only a few decades ago, we spent one third of our incomes on food. Today, we spend just 10%.

As our incomes have grown, we've preferred to spend our new-found affluence on leisurely pursuits, entertainment and technology, rather than what sustains us.

The ironic part is that consumers hold enormous power - probably much more than a voter does, and most people seem blissfully unaware, that each time they buy a product, they are effectively casting their vote for that company and their practices and ethics.

The simple fact of the matter is, that companies will go where the money flows. Whilever we focus on buying cheap food, they'll use cheap means and cheap labour to produce it.

If we, on the other hand, prove our willingness to pay more for food that is better quality and has been produced ethically and responsibly, then companies will provide it. It's not rocket science!

The fact that we now have organic food in supermarkets is testament to the power of the consumer.

Please. Make an effort to learn where your food comes from and how it's been made, and if you don't like what you learn, then vote with your hip pocket. And even better, contact the company and tell them why you will/or will not be buying their product in future.

They'll soon get the hint. Their shareholders will see to that.

Make Your Own: Air Freshener

The term "air freshener" is really a paradox.

How can spraying chemicals around the room possibly freshen the air?!

It can't.

But it CAN affect the smell receptors in your nose, making you unable to sense odours. There now. Problem solved! Er...that is, if you don't mind harmful gases entering your lungs and into your bloodstream...

Here's a better idea...

Make your own! All you need is:

20-30 drops of essential oil
1tsp methylated spirits
1 ltr distilled water

Dissolve essential oil in methylated spirits. Mix with distilled water, store in airtight container or glass bottle.

Can also be used as disinfectant, if using essential oils with disinfectant properties ( cinnamon, clove, pine, tea tree, thyme, bergamot, peppermint, rosemary, juniper, sandalwood.)

Be cautious if you are pregnant. Some essential oils are not recommended during pregnancy.

1.5 Million Reasons to Support Breastfeeding Mothers.

We know that "breast is best" when it comes to feeding babies, but it seems the message still hasn't reached many parts of the world.

UNICEF estimates that breastfeeding could prevent 1.5 million babies dying every year.

Here....let me say that again.

Breastfeeding could prevent 1.5 million babies from dying every year.

Breastfeeding provides antibodies and is known to help prevent many illnesses from meningitis to acute diarrhoea and ear infections, not just during infancy, but long after breastfeeding has finished.

Not only that, but some infant formulas also contain MSG and aspartic acid, according to tests conducted by the good people at Truth in Labeling.  (Neither of these are listed on the label. They are a by-product of processing.)

And just to add insult to injury, Greenpeace recently discovered that one brand of soy infant formula sold in Australia contained genetically modified ingredients. The manufacturer claims it is "accidental" contamination (this is quite legal due to our crazy labelling laws). That argument might work the first time...but this is the TENTH time their baby formula has tested positive for GM contamination...

Ironically, poorer third world countries have some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. For example, in some poorer countries, less than 20% of babies are exclusively breastfed from birth. (Source: UNICEF)

But this has not stopped a certain large corporation (whom we shall publicly name and shame here....Nestle) from aggressively marketing their "gold standard" in infant nutrition.

Not just in Western countries, but in poor countries, where it is more important than ever that mothers be encouraged to breastfeed.

Where not only is money scarce and could be better spent on medications or clothing or housing, but many times there is limited access to clean water to make up the formula.

High illiteracy rates mean some mothers cannot read the instructions correctly, often do not have the resources available to sterilise or clean equipment properly, and formula is sometimes "watered down" in an effort to save money, which can lead to malnutrition.

In Bangladesh alone, baby milk and baby food imports are worth 16 million British pounds per year. 16 million pounds! In Bangladesh alone!

I may go on and on, but I think this article from The Guardian makes the point very clearly: Milking It. While you're at it, check out the Nestle boycott, now an international movement.Lets not make any mistakes here. We are not talking about making infant formula unavailable. We are not talking about singling out mothers who use it - many have medical and personal reasons for formula-feeding.

We are talking about a HUGE company, making a handsome profit out of the people who can least afford it.

Shame on you, Nestle.

And you haven't heard the last from me. I have not yet got started on your clever business strategy of making people fat with your junk food (cleverly designed and packaged with all kinds of nutritious claims), and then offering them the perfect solution to their problems with one of your "diet" programs through Jenny Craig. (Yes. They own Jenny Craig, too.)

Make Your Own: Body Scrub

A weekly body scrub is great for the skin, as it helps remove dead skin cells, and gets the circulatory and lymphatic systems moving.

But you don't need to buy expensive scrubs from the shop. Not only can they contain questionable ingredients like Methylparaben and "fragrance", but you can make your own quickly and cheaply, and you probably have the ingredients in your pantry.

Just make up a batch as needed.

You need:

 - 5 teaspoons of sugar or salt (I prefer sea salt for it's healing/antibacterial qualities)
 - 1 teaspoon olive oil
 - 1 drop of your favourite essential oil

Mix it up (it should be damp and a bit "clumpy") and use in the shower. I also use this on my face, but try a little amount first, until you know it's not too harsh for your skin type.

7 Healthy Changes That Your Body Will Thank You For...

Happy New Year!!

Have you made a New Year's Resolution to lose weight, or to get healthy? You wouldn't be alone. Losing weight and getting healthy seem to be top of the list every year. But how many people really do?

Below are 7 changes to get you started. Take them at your own pace. Some are quick and easy, others are not so much. But all of them are well worth the effort. I say that from experience.

I feel like I am only just starting to fulfil my potential, after years of taking "nanna naps" in the afternoon, a couple of bouts with depression, and working in jobs that were below my true capabilities.

I have made huge changes in the last year. In the beginning I felt worse. But after about 3 months, I noticed more energy, less hair falling out, greater mental clarity and felt more "switched on". Nowadays I feel as though I can surely take on the world.

Below are what I believe are the 7 most important changes I have made:

1.) Stop drinking fluoridated water.

We are currently drinking Pureau brand of water, which is available in Australian supermarkets in 10L casks for around $7. This water tastes SO good! However, this is not really a long-term solution, from a cost perspective, but also because this water has been filtered, any minerals and trace elements have also been removed. 

Be aware that most filters do not remove fluoride. Neither does boiling the water.

Reverse osmosis filters and distillation filters can remove fluoride but these are both quite expensive. The other option is a rainwater tank, if you don't like in an area with heavy pollution.

After drinking pure water for a while, try a mouthful of tap water, and it will taste like you are drinking chemicals.

2.) Get rid of table salt. 

Table salt is just rubbish - plain and simple! - and has absolutely no positive effects on the human body. Pure salt from the earth, is rich in minerals, but after processing all the minerals out (which are then sold off elsewhere, to be added to things like breakfast cereals), you are left with a product that is foreign to the human body. Iodised table salt is hardly much better. Still rubbish...with a bit of iodine added.

Replace it with Himalayan Crystal salt. This salt is a pinkish or gray-ish in colour, rich in trace minerals, and can be found in good health food shops.

The second best option is Celtic salt. And if you can't get either, get natural sea salt.

3.) Change your cooking oil.

Did you realise that coconut oil is the only known cooking oil that does not go rancid at high temperatures? This means that vegetable oils and olive oil are not suitable for cooking. Rancid oils have the potential to turn cancerous in the body.

Coconut oil is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-oxidant, and anti-microbial. This means it is great for the immune system and the digestive system, has anti-aging properties, and people have testified that coconut oil has helped with all manner of problems from obesity and high blood pressure, to diabetes and HIV. It can be used externally as a moisteriser and massage oil, and is a wonderful wound healer.

Use cold-pressed unrefined coconut oil for cooking. It is solid at room temperature, just scoop a little bit out on a spoon and add to the pan, and it will turn liquid as it heats.

Olive oil is suitable for salad dressings or any purpose where it won't be heated at a high temperature, but only buy in small amounts as it will turn rancid if left on the shelf for months.

4.)  Cut out MSG.

This is not easy, seeing as MSG is in every aisle of the supermarket, even in the "health" food aisle.

This will probably mean giving up most savoury-flavoured snack products, gravy powders, stock powders, nearly all take-away food and frozen convenience food. Your tastebuds might protest for a little while, but your body will be much happier without these non-foods.

In case you need convincing, here's more on MSG

5.) Quit sugar.

This one is not easy -  I won't pretend. Chances are that you are addicted to sugar without even realising it. Most people don't realise how much sugar they consume in a typical day, and sometimes from surprising sources.

For instance, in a typical day, the average person could easily consume sugar more than 20 times in a day, from things like breakfast cereal, hot beverages, fruit juice, biscuits, cake, flavoured yoghurts, tomato sauce, frozen ready meals and convenience food such as pizza, pasta sauces, savoury flavoured chips or snacks, ice-cream, soft drinks, muesli bars, pastries, and some breads.

Every single person I have known who has quit sugar has also lost weight in the process.

6.) Avoid aspartame at all costs.

I've never been big on diet soft drinks so avoiding aspartame wasn't a big deal for me. But if you use artificial sweeteners or drink diet or "zero sugar" soft drinks or desserts, etc then please do yourself a favour and get this nasty toxin out of your life.

I've picked on MSG and aspartame in this list because I feel that they are possibly the two worst food additives, and they should not be allowed in our food supply. They are neurotoxins and their effects can be devastating.

More on aspartame here.

Experiment with stevia, xylitol or raw honey as alternative sweeteners.

7.) Switch to sourdough bread products.

Commercial breads are churned out as cheaply and as quickly as possible, and while it suits us to pay bargain prices for bread, it's not really in our best interests to do so.

Bread that is made quickly and cheaply, usually needs additives, and enzymes (which are probably not listed on the label, and may be genetically modified), emulsifiers, fats and conditioners to make it soft and fluffy, AND stay that way for a week.

The adulteration of bread may turn out to be the culprit in the explosion in coeliac disease and wheat allergies. Commercial bread may also contribute to yeast infections like candida. If you suffer from bloating and gas, you may find it eases after switching to sourdough products. (I did.)

Sourdough breads are made in the ancient, time-honoured process of leaving the dough to ferment and mature, making the dough more easily digested. (In case you're wondering, no it doesn't taste "sour".)

But be aware. Some commercial brands produce a "sourdough" bread, but apon further inspection of the ingredient label, it becomes apparent that there is still a significant amount of baker's yeast used, and very little sourdough.

A true sourdough bread only needs a few ingredients: flour, sourdough, olive oil and salt. Look for stoneground or wholemeal types.

You may need to try your local health food store or whole foods market.


In the beginning, some of these changes will seem all-too-hard. You'll feel you are being deprived. Stick with it. After a while you start to feel so much better, that it becomes easy. It's simply not worth going back...

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