Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Good Timing Working Out a Blueprint for Nursing Through the Second Year   Leave a comment

For the last few months I’ve been trying to work out a “plan” for the second year of breastfeeding. It’s amazing how difficult it is to answer the question “What does it mean to breastfeed for the first two years?” Now, four months into that second year I’ve finally got something worked out.

From the get-go I fully intended to breastfeed for at least two years, and at the beginning it’s easy to understand how it works. Actually making it work, now that’s another story. While pregnant I read/heard the descriptions of how to nurse a baby, but it was completely over my head and I didn’t get it. Sitting on my bed with Conan shortly after he was born I was completely blank and thankful for the Rachels’ help latching Conan on the first time. And we had our struggles: Conan’s neck and back tension meant he couldn’t open enough for a good latch when he was born, I was so emotionally not yet ready for visitors and Christmas that I got blocked ducts and mastitis two weeks in, I got a yeast infection and had to resort to gentian violet (we have a picture of Conan’s mouth stained purple to prove it), I got blocked ducts 3 times in the first 3 months with a handful of close calls since then, and between pumping and sometimes Conan as either a hoover or lazy latch I’ve had several rounds of bruised areolas (that’s how it feels anyway) with the most recent just a couple months ago.

With a newborn I found it easy to get into the groove of the feeding schedule and evolve over time, especially with the addition of “solids” in the latter half of the first year. In our society, though, where the vast majority of babies are no longer breastfeeding after 12 months, understanding how that evolution continues after 12 months is more challenging. Plus, there’s so much variety in situations and desires that everyone has to answer this question for herself. Even the World Health Organization, which recommends breastfeeding for the first two years, doesn’t give an explanation of what that means.

Back before Conan’s first birthday I started trying to figure this out, starting with the question of how long I should continue to pump. That’s when I first started getting frustrated because I saw so many times the phrase “you don’t need to worry about frequency of feeding because toddlers will self-regulate”. Ok, that’s fine if you’re home with your toddler but that it completely not helpful when I am trying to figure out how long to continue pumping at work. It is also unhelpful when your toddler shows no desire to communicate and never asks for milk (but expects it at certain ritual times and gets very excited when it is offered). I found a few discussion boards where it seemed the longest that anyone continued to pump at work was to 18 months. So I’ve been just continuing the status quo with that 18 month target in mind.

But I wasn’t really happy with a random 18 month target. It was like dealing with sleep and things like “at 5 months babies can sleep through the night” and then getting to 5 months and feeling like I wasn’t going to suddenly stop going to him at night and not feeling like there was anything unnatural or wrong about his behavior. So we just ignored all of that kind of advice and let him evolve at his own pace. Realizing that made me wonder if it is possible to do the same with breast feeding even if he doesn’t get to regulate me 5 days a week.

So I decided that I’m going to continue pumping until he no longer wants a bottle at day care. If that means I’m pumping for around 2 years, I’m fine with that. Along with that I also decided that I think he should continue drinking his day care milk in a bottle. It makes sense to me that he get my milk through a nipple, be it mine or a silicone one. When he starts supplementing with cow’s milk it should be in a plain cup. The sippy bottle should only ever contain water, just like mommy and daddy’s water bottles. I have no idea which nursing will go first/next, but until it no longer seems right I’ll just continue with the status quo.

These decisions were timely as a week an a half ago I got mastitis again, and it took me four days to get the ducts unblocked. It is looking like that may have affected production and Conan may need to start supplementing with cow’s milk at day care. Having just worked out a blueprint for breastfeeding in the second year, though I’m at peace with whatever happens however it happens (I think).

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Posted April 20, 2014 by mayakey in conscious living, food, parenting

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Beautiful Blue Eggs From Red Cabbage   Leave a comment

Despite the snow/blizzards that some parts of the country experienced this past week/weekend obscuring the start of spring, this is the week of the vernal equinox. Every year it’s my chance to have fun dying Ostara eggs. Since my (Catholic) JustFaith prayer formation group met today, I brought my Ostara eggs to share with everyone. Yes, I’m a new age Catholic, and proud of it. I love celebrating Mother Earth and her cycles, life and death, light and dark.

Yellow, blue, and dark pinkish brown eggs

Yellow (turmeric), blue (red cabbage), and pinkish-brown (beet) Ostara eggs.

Anyway, back to the eggs. This year I did beets, red cabbage, and turmeric. Just like last year, the turmeric makes for beautiful bright yellow eggs. Believe it or not the beautiful blue eggs are dyed in red cabbage. The beets had the most disappointing results. I can’t remember if I’ve ever dyed eggs with beets before, but I guess the trick is to not rinse them off when you take them out of the dye bath (see the comparison of the rinsed and unrinsed pink eggs in the photos). They are both a brownish pink, but the rinsed ones are more brown with a light tracery of pink while the unrinsed ones are a little more obviously dark pink. Too late for me to get a picture I learned that while the eggSHELL didn’t turn so pink, the egg INSIDE is a beautiful light pink. Maybe that’s an even better lesson for girlie-girls: the pink egg is more beautiful on the inside. ūüôā

Pinkish-brown eggs

Rinsed and Unrinsed beet-dyed eggs

Usually when I’ve dyed eggs in the past I threw the raw eggs and the¬†dye material in the pot and boil it together, then let it sit to cool off. This year I boiled thedye material the night before, and then strained it into jars where I soaked the eggs for several hours. It works much better that way. This technique would theoretically also allow you to gently crack the hard boiled eggs before dying them so that some you get a dyed network on the egg inside. I’ve yet to do this on purpose, but there are always a couple eggs that crack while boiling and they end up with a beautiful under-shell dye job. Since I’m using food-based dyes instead of synthetic dyes I have no problems eating them.¬†¬†Now, however, I have a couple jars of beet juice and cabbage juice that I just can’t bring myself to throw down the sink (or on the compost). I wish I had more eggs to dye.

Posted March 21, 2012 by mayakey in food, spiritual practices

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TerraCycle: Awesome Idea But How Exactly Does It Work?   Leave a comment

The November/December 2011 issue of the Green American (Green America’s periodical) is about plastics, including disposal of them. One of the sidebars is about TerraCycle, a company that recycles/reuses various hard-to-recycle waste like candy wrappers, cheese packaging, and Solo cups. I had heard about TerraCycle before and thought it sounded like a really great idea, but I hadn’t had a chance to use it until recently. Unfortunately, I still haven’t.

My opportunity was Bear Naked granola bags. A while back I started splurging on Bear Naked granola for my cereal when I got a coupon for it, because it isn’t sweet like most of the other granolas in the store and actually tastes really good. On the back of the bag it tells you not to throw it away because you can either send it back to them or recycle it through TerraCycle, so I kept the bags. All four of them. Unfortunately or fortunately, I transitioned to just putting chopped nuts and fresh blueberries or other fruit and don’t anticipate buying granola in the store for a very long time, if ever. Maybe I’ll experiment with making my own so that I actually like it and don’t find it too sweet or unhealthy. During my winter purge this past year I found the small pile of bags and decided that it was time to get rid of them. According to their website there are two options for “sustainable disposal”: sending them in to Bear Naked and getting swag in return, or recycling them through TerraCycle. For the size bag that I had, I was six bags short of being able to get a reusable grocery bag that I don’t need. So I looked into TerraCycle and ended up horribly confused. I guess you need to sign up with a brigade (or start a new one) and then you can send stuff in for recycling. But I didn’t want to sign up to join something just to get rid of four bags. I guess the minimum amount to send in is actually 5 bags, according to the blurb in the Green American. I would have loved to find out who has a brigade and I would have happily sent them my bags in order to support their organization since they can get money back from turning in items. But I couldn’t find that information without signing up, and again, I had no interest in signing myself up for something for this one-time exchange. So apparently TerraCycle is a great idea…if you are or know of an organization that can collect items to send back, or if you go through enough of the items yourself to justify signing up. Unless of course I’m not understanding the process.

Sadly, my four bags ended up in the garbage. It’s unfortunate since the sustainable packaging program, along with the granola not being really sweet, is why I bought the Bear Naked granola in the first place.

 

Posted January 23, 2012 by mayakey in environment, food, resource use

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Shame on Whole Foods For Selling “Natural” Turkeys   1 comment

Ordering a turkey for Thanksgiving is an interesting process. The choices! I mean, really, it’s just a turkey! But one of my greenwashing pet peeves is being highlighted all over the place, and that is the use of the word “natural”. The Whole Foods holiday catalogue listed “natural” turkeys, organic turkeys, and “heirloom” turkeys. I confess that I don’t know enough about turkeys to know if heirloom actually means anything. But I’m well aware that natural is a meaningless term. What’s an unnatural turkey? Other than tofurkey, anyway. All it is is marketing, greenwashing. It is tricky, too, since when in a hurry a natural turkey sounds like a good choice. I almost got caught, even, until I paused for a moment to ask why there were so many options and realized that it boiled down to organic and not-organic. Unfortunately, we actually have one of those not-organic “natural” turkeys, but that’s because they don’t have pre-brined organic turkeys.

This is one of my pet peeves because I find deceptive advertising to be a horrible practice. The only reason to say that it is a “natural” turkey rather than just a turkey is to make people think they’re getting something healthier. But since it’s not a regulated term, natural can mean fed ground up cows and injected with some fancy saline solution (just as an example, I know nothing about raising turkeys).

Posted November 24, 2011 by mayakey in food, musings, shopping, Uncategorized

Tenth Anniversary of the Harkin-Engel “Cocoa” Protocol   Leave a comment

September 19th marks the tenth anniversary of the Harkin-Engel Protocol aka the Cocoa Protocol, which is an international agreement signed by major chocolate companies to end forced child labor on cocoa plantations in West Africa. To make the story short, that hasn’t happened. The protocol contained specific objectives with deadlines, but deadlines have slipped by several years, and little progress has been made. I’m not going to get into much background here since I’m not an expert on that side of the issue. As usual, Wikipedia has some info, and GreenAmerica has info and campaigns including a letter-writing campaign to Hershey (one of the worst laggards) and a film investigating the current status of forced child labor.

I’m not very consistent at advocacy, but do much better at action. In this case the major action is to buy fair trade chocolate, since the certification for child labor-free chocolate has not yet been developed. There’s plenty of fair trade chocolate available, although since I don’t shop at a mainstream grocery store I don’t know how accessible it is there. There are several companies and organizations that sell many varieties of fair trade including Dagoba, Green & Black (Maya Gold only), Divine, Theo, Sjaaks, Equal Exchange, SERRV International, Alter Eco, Global Exchange, and Grounds for Change. In our house we use only fair trade cocoa products. Even at work and movies I rarely consume “conventional” chocolate (although I must confess that’s also because I dislike milk chocolate and find most candy bars way too sweet and decidedly not satisfying). I’m not under the delusion that I could convince anyone else to avoid candy bars, but the way I see it any increase in market share for fair trade chocolate manufacturers and corresponding decrease in market share for “conventional” chocolate manufacturers is a good movement that will continue to build momentum.

With Halloween coming out I wish I could say: buy fair trade chocolate to give out to trick-or-treaters. But I won’t. We buy a container of mini-bars of fair trade chocolates because even though the kids who consume them will never even notice or care about the label (or as my husband points out, might actually throw it away since I can only get dark chocolate minis), I just cannot give my money to Hershey or any other objectionable chocolate manufacturer. But it is expensive! And frustratingly difficult to find. For the life of me I cannot figure out why there isn’t more marketing of mini-chocolates around Halloween. Instead there is marketing of “reverse trick-or-treating” in which you get a kit with fair trade mini-chocolates stuck onto postcards, and then as your kids go trick-or-treating they hand these chocolates and postcards to the people handing out candy. When I have a kid who goes trick-or-treating, I’ll probably do this, but for now all I can do is put my money where my mouth is for the candy I give out. I very much encourage anyone who does have a trick-or-treater at home to consider reverse trick-or-treating. You can search for it online to find kits (Equal Exchange and Global Exchange do it, and there may be others).

Posted September 19, 2011 by mayakey in advocacy, fair trade, food

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Not Using What’s Provided, Part 2   Leave a comment

A few months ago I wrote a post about reducing waste by not mindlessly using all the¬†“free” “convenience” products that we are often surrounded with. Recent occurances at work have made me aware of a related topic: providing your own stuff instead of using the “free” stuff that is provided.

The first example is tissue products. My office keeps a cabinet stocked with boxes of tissues for employees to take as needed for their individual offices. I buy my own tissues instead. Why spend my own money when my company is already providing the same thing? Because it is really important to me to use paper products that are not chlorine bleached. (I don’t care as much about whether they’re made of recycled content, but I’ve yet to find tissue products that aren’t labeled as both or neither). It is worthwhile to me to buy my own tissues and reduce by even a tiny fraction the pollution caused by chorine bleaching. Taking it a step further, I have a small terry cloth hand¬†towel that I hang near the entrance to my cubicle so that it is convenient to take with me into the restroom to use to dry my hands instead of using the paper towels.

The second example is tea and hot chocolate. Like many offices, there’s always a pot or two of coffee brewing in the break room at my office and a tray of sugar, creamer, teabags, and hot chocolate mix packets. While I drink hot tea throughout the day, and occasionally enjoy a hot cocoa pick-me-up, until recently I almost never partook of those offerings. Instead I keep quite the selection of teas at my desk (peak was 19 different kinds, including medicinal), and a tin of cocoa mix.¬†It is very important to me that tea and chocolate be fair trade certified, or fairly traded for herbs when there’s no certification available. Currently, I’m out of tea as I switch from tea bags to loose teas and in the intervening time since I’m out of tea I’m taking the lazy(?) way out and instead of doing without I’m using the macha tea provided in the break room. I hope that since it is a Japanese tea, it might be actually grown in Japan where fair trade certification does not apply.

My third example is junk food snacks.¬†One of my strategies for reducing junk food consumption and trash is to bring my own snacks to the office. A square of high quality fair-trade dark chocolate and/or a piece of fresh fruit at my desk helps me ward off the siren call of a Reese’s cup or cookie left over from someone’s meeting. The sugary snacks in the break room usually offer me zero satisfaction, contribute to long term increased sugar cravings, and create relatively high volume of waste. My sweet snacks provide me with as much satisfaction as I want, and create little to no non-biodegradable waste. A container of carrots, tomatoes, or other vegetables helps me keep away from the bags of chips in the break room, and was instrumental in overcoming my cracker addiction.

The Tomato Sauce Aisle Struggle   2 comments

Tomato sauce and I don’t have the greatest of relationships. I don’t ever remember putting tomato sauce on my pasta. From my earliest memories I would put a pile of spaghetti on one side of the plate, a barrier of vegetables across the plate, and the tomato sauce and meatballs on the other side (or even in a separate bowl). My preference for pizza is little to no tomato sauce; olive oil, pesto, and tomatillo sauce work just as well for me! When I met my husband the fact that he prided himself on doctoring up and improving tomato sauce (and that was almost the limit of his cooking at the time) ran head-long into my aversion to the stuff. Over the last few years we’ve struck a compromise by cooking with tomato sauce in “caserole” dishes and vegetables, and kept pasta separate. And usually he buys the sauce so I don’t have to think about it.

It’s good that he buys it because when it is on my shopping list I usually spend several minutes standing in front of the tomato sauce shelves unable to make a decision. Especially living in “the Big Tomato” as Sacramento/the Central Valley is sometimes referred to, it seems like buying locally produced tomato sauce should be the best choice. There should be no need to buy Italian or East Coast imports, right? And generic brands don’t indicate where they were grown/made. But most of the sauces that are grown/made in California are more pricey artisan sauces. Usually I would easily chose the artisan sauce, but it’s really hard to pay more money for something you don’t even like.

Recently, though I found myself saying “that was absolutely delicious” after eating a tomato sauce based dish that was made with a generic brand organic tomato sauce. So long story short, this shouldn’t be a conundrum for me. Just get the generic organic sauce and forget about artisan sauces that I don’t appreciate; and acknowledge that it just doesn’t actually make sense to buy local in this case. I wonder how long it will take to convince myself of that?

Posted July 15, 2011 by mayakey in advocacy, food, shopping

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