Welcome to Allergy Free & Cheap Like Me!

gluten, dairy, egg & soy free

I’m so happy you are here! I hope to create a place for you to find lots of information about food allergies, as well as, lots of goodies to help you not only eat better, but more affordably! Please feel free to share all of your own tips, tricks, and recipes too! Thank you for stopping by and I hope to see you again very soon! You can read more about my allergy story here.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Life of a Plastic Bag

Here is something that might bring a smile to your face about something serious and very near and dear to my heart, the plastic bag and ultimately the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Heal the Bay released this “mockumentary” narrated by Academy Award winning actor Jeremy Irons which follows the travels of “one of the most clever and illustrious creatures: the plastic bag. 

All kidding aside, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated 3,960,000 tons of plastic bags, sack and wraps were produced in 2008. Of those, 3,570,000 tons (90%) were discarded. It is estimated that an average individual uses around 130 plastic bags per year. And, if you haven’t heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch read my blog post about it here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why Buy Organic?

Organic vs. Non-Organic

To buy organic or not to buy organic is a question many of us ask ourselves. In these financial times it is sometimes hard to justify the higher cost of buying organic to ourselves. The following is a list of items that are found to have higher pesticide levels and are healthier to buy organic and also a list of items you can get away with skipping their organic versions if you are on a tight budget.

When you SHOULD buy organic:
1. Celery

2. Peaches

3. Strawberries

4. Apples

5. Blueberries

6. Nectarines

7. Bell peppers

8. Spinach, kale & collard greens

9. Cherries

10. Potatoes

11. Grapes

12. Leafy greens
13. Carrots
14. Pears
15. Meat
16. Milk
17. Coffee

When you can SKIP it:

1. Onions

2. Avocados
3. Sweet corn
4. Pineapples

5. Mangoes

6. Sweet peas

7. Asparagus

8. Kiwi fruit

9. Cabbage

10. Eggplant

11. Papaya

12. Watermelon

13. Sweet potatoes

14. Broccoli

Why Buy Organic?

Although selectively choosing which products you buy organically saves money, doing so also misses an important point: buying organic is about more than keeping pesticides out of our bodies. It is about supporting a system of sustainable agricultural management that promotes soil health and fertility which nourish plants, foster species diversity, helps combat climate change, prevent damage to valuable water resources, and protects farmers and farmers’ families from exposure to harmful chemicals. In this sense, buying organic is a commitment to the bigger, more complex picture of which our personal health is a part.

In thinking about which organic products to buy, consider this: instead of focusing your organic purchases on a particular category of items, choose organic versions of the products you buy most. Whether that is milk, produce, or personal care products, buying organic will not only help reduce your exposure to harmful pesticides and fertilizers, but also support a system of agricultural management that is great for the planet.

So simply in my opinion if you can afford to go organic, DO, it’s worth it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

A swirling sea of plastic bags, bottles and other debris is growing in the North Pacific, and now another one has been found in the Atlantic.  How does it get there?

Not all garbage ends up at the dump. A river, sewer or beach can't catch everything the rain washes away, either. In fact, Earth's largest landfill isn't on land at all.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch stretches for hundreds of miles across the North Pacific Ocean, forming a nebulous, floating junk yard at sea. It's the poster child for a worldwide problem: plastic that begins in human hands yet ends up in the ocean, often inside animals' stomachs or around their necks. This marine debris has sloshed into the public spotlight recently, thanks to growing media coverage as well as scientists and explorers who are increasingly visiting the North Pacific to see plastic pollution in action.

The garbage patch is said to be twice the size of Texas, other reports say it’s the size of France.  Whatever the size, what we do know for sure is it is mostly made up of plastic. Unlike most other trash, plastic isn't biodegradable — i.e., the microbes that break down other substances don't recognize plastic as food, leaving it to float there forever. Sunlight does eventually "photodegrade" the bonds in plastic polymers, reducing it to smaller and smaller pieces, but that just makes matters worse. The plastic still never goes away; it just becomes microscopic and may be eaten by tiny marine organisms, entering the food chain.

What’s one thing YOU can do to prevent this giant garbage patch from getting any bigger? Use reusable grocery bags instead of plastic ones! All stores have them now or you can even get your own designer style ones. You only need a few and you can use them over and over again! It’s something that is so easy but really makes a HUGE difference. Another thing, take one day and note every time you use something made out of plastic, whether it is your shampoo bottle in the morning or the plastic container your food came in at lunch…note everything throughout your day. The amount of plastic you use in a day might just surprise you and the first step to reducing that amount is really being aware of just how much you use! 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How Much Water Do You Use?

I just ran across this short, great video that paints the picture well: our daily water use, what you can do, and how it really adds up!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fast Food Nation's Eric Schlosser!

I recently had the opportunity to see Eric Schlosser speak at University of Alaska Fairbanks.  For those of you who do not know who Eric Schlosser is he is the author of the bestselling book, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the America Meal.  He also co-produced the documentary Food, Inc and the acclaimed film There Will Be Blood. As an investigative journalist and author, he has made a name for himself by giving a voice to the voiceless in modern society, addressing such issues as the black market industries of drugs and prostitution, exploitation of vulnerable workers and most recently the U.S. prison system.

After seeing Food, Inc. I thought I was already aware of all the horrors of the food industry. Surprise, I don’t and during his lecture I learned much, much more!  He talked a bit about the environmental movement that started 40 years ago with the first Earth Day. Some of the background and history I found fascinating, as well as some background about the food industry in the same time period. Did you know that in 1970 when the first Earth day was celebrated there were over 1,000 meatpacking plants, currently there are only a handful of plants. Why the change? In two words, FACTORY FARMS. The meat industry has moved these packing plants to be closer to the GIANT factory farms they have created, causing the closing down of most local packing plants. The EPA has said the run off from these giant factory farms pollute our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined!  Some more food for thought, one hamburger you buy at a fast food restaurant can contain meat from 100’s of different cows. Yep that’s right 100’s. I won’t even go into the feces contamination factor in these factory farms that not only show up in the burgers we eat but in our environment and waterways as well.     

During his talk he not only shared some pretty eye opening statistics about the food industry as a whole but also about Alaska and Fairbanks. For example Alaska has the highest obesity rate in the United States!  This fact alone is staggering, considering the population density of Alaska compared to other states! 95% of all food we eat in Alaska is shipped up from the lower 48 through Anchorage. To go a step further if Fairbanks somehow got cut off from the rest of the United States or Anchorage within three days all the fresh produce would be gone from our local grocery stores!

His lecture reiterated, in my mind at least, that this is not only a fight for better health, or better quality of food, but it is also a social fight, a fight for the fair treatment of workers in the United States and internationally. Jobs in the meat packing industry are one of the lowest paying jobs in the United States and according to Human Rights Watch is “the most dangerous factory job in America.” This really made me take a deeper look at where my food is coming from and the consequences of what I eat.

If you haven’t read Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of The American Meal or seen Food, Inc. I highly recommend them both. Everyone needs to be aware of where their food is coming from and what is in their food. If you ever get the chance to go see Eric Schlosser speak in person, do, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed and I am positive you will learn a thing or two about your food you were not aware of.
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