The Clean Fifteen – Fruits and Vegetables You Don’t Have to Buy Organic

Sugar snap peas at Happy Simple Living blog

Sugar peas at the LaGrande Farmers’ Market, LaGrande, Oregon

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably interested in eating organic foods whenever possible. But let’s face it—availability isn’t always predictable, and prices can sometimes be 100% higher or more for organics.

Since I wrote last week about the “Dirty Dozen”—the 12 fruits and veggies we should try to eat organic whenever possible due to heavy pesticide loads, I was curious about whether certain produce types typically have lighter pesticide residues. Indeed, the Environmental Working Group has published a list of the safest conventionally-grown crops to consume from the standpoint of pesticide contamination:

  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapple
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peas
  • Asparagus
  • Mango
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe (domestic)
  • Sweet potato
  • Grapefruit
  • Watermelon
  • Mushrooms

Of course, in my humble opinion the best produce of all includes the herbs, fruits and veggies we grow organically in our gardens. Check back this week for another great gardening book giveaway!

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

 

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of six books about home design and food. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Free Book Giveaway – The Ultimate Guide to Permaculture

Permaculture

I’ve learned much about permaculture after reading a very interesting book. Permaculture is a method of growing food and building homes in a manner that works with nature instead of against it.

Author Nicole Faires has written a hands-on guide that takes the reader through every step of the permaculture process. The book is divided into nine sections:

  • Overview
  • Energy
  • Water
  • Homes and shelter
  • Gardens
  • Cooking and preserving
  • Zones
  • Community
  • Plants

Faires lays out a common-sense approach for sustainable living, and while some of the ideas aren’t applicable to those of us who live in urban areas (how to build an underground house or breed cattle, for example), the ideas are nonetheless fascinating and interesting to read.

Maybe because it snowed again in Colorado yesterday I’ve been in full-out garden dreaming mode, so the gardening sections in this book were especially interesting to me. Faires includes an extensive list of plants to consider for your own homestead, from perennial food crops to interesting edibles like JuJuBe and quinoa.

She also includes a very useful 16-page chart of companion planting ideas. The idea is to group plants in communities or guilds, taking advantage of their growing tendencies and the way they use nutrients, so that the plants support each other. It’s a concept that seems so simple and smart – but one which, admittedly, I’ve rarely considered other than in terms of aesthetics.

If you’re interested in learning more about self-reliance and living off the land, the book is packed with ideas, illustrations, photos and tips for topics like worm farming, designing a greenhouse, conserving water, extending the growing season, cold storage, building a chicken coop, composting, preserving food, finding your right career and much more.

The Ultimate Guide to Permaculture is 330 pages and retails for $16.95 USD. Skyhorse Publishing has generously provided a complimentary copy for one lucky HappySimpleLiving.com reader.

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below and answer the question “What is one step you would like to take towards sustainability or self-sufficiency in the next 18 months?” The giveaway closes next Tuesday March 12 at midnight MST, and is open to US residents.

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of six books about home design and food. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Free Book Giveaway – Rocks, Dirt, Worms and Weeds

Rocks Dirt Worms Weeds at Happy Simple Living blog

If you love to garden and are looking for ways to share the joy with the kids in your life, you will love this book! Rocks, Dirt, Worms & Weeds by Jeff Hutton is packed with fun vegetable and flower gardening ideas for kids and adults.

Hutton is a writer and master gardener, and he clearly knows his stuff. The book has easy-to-follow directions and photos for kid-friendly projects like starting garden seeds indoors, transplanting seedlings, creating a strawberry pot, planting a sunflower maze, composting, attracting beneficial bugs, and keeping the garden free of weeds.

He also shares directions for fun crafts like pressing flowers, keeping a garden journal, creating a butterfly garden, painting ladybug rocks and making stepping stones.

Rocks, Dirt, Worms and Weeds is 136 pages and retails for $14.95. Skyhorse Publishing has generously provided a complimentary copy for one lucky HappySimpleLiving.com reader. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below and answer the question “What are you looking forward to growing in your garden this summer?” The giveaway will close this Wednesday evening February 27 at midnight MST, and is open to US residents.

It’s snowing here in Colorado today – a perfect day to daydream about digging in the dirt. Good luck, and I look forward to hearing your gardening plans.

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of six books about home design and food. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Day 28 of the January Money Diet – Reduce Food Waste

“The remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served us nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” ~Calvin Trillin

It just kills me to discard spoiled food that we didn’t eat. One of my goals this year is to make better use of leftovers. The whole concept of “zero waste” appeals to me on so many levels, and utilizing food efficiently is so important.

If you feel the same way, you might enjoy the Leftover Chef site where you can input whatever strange ingredients are lurking in your refrigerator for recipe ideas. Enter ‘turkey, ‘cranberries,’ and ‘onions,’ for instance, and you’ll find an appealing recipe for Turkey Cutlets with Cranberry – Pear Relish.

Do you have stale crackers and chips lurking in the pantry? Refresh them by spreading them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and baking at 300 degrees F for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool and then seal in an airtight container.

What about those stray veggies in the vegetable crisper? Use them in salads or on pizza, or freeze them for your next batch of soup.

Leftover tortillas can be used to make homemade tortilla chips, like this healthy baked version from Savory Sweet Life.

Homework assignment #28: What’s your favorite way to use leftovers? We’d love to hear your ideas!

P.S. In case you’ve just joined us, the January Money Diet is a challenge to take a 31-day break from nonessential spending. You can learn more about the money diet here — and jump right in!

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Win a Deluxe Happy Simple Living Gift Basket

In honor of the January Money Diet, I’ll be giving away a gift basket chock-full of home and garden goodies plus several books at the end of the month. On January 31, 2013, I’ll draw one random name from everyone who commented during the month and that lucky person will win the gift basket. I hope you’ll stop by often this month and share your own ideas, thoughts and experiences about taking a 31-day break from nonessential spending.

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About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of six books about home design and food. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Day 25 of the January Money Diet – Go for Zero Waste

Mason jars at Happy Simple Living blog

Photo: Jamie Hansen

“In a recession, people are inclined to keep things, but I feel the opposite. The less I have, the richer I feel. Stuff weighs you down.” ~Béa Johnson

A couple years ago I read the most inspiring article in Sunset Magazine, about the Johnson family in Mill Valley, California. The Johnsons have pared down their possessions and live a wonderfully simple life. The family members are so careful about not consuming wasteful packaging, they generate almost zero garbage.

The Johnsons are big on composting, and this is one way we try to reduce waste. I just love the idea of reusing the kitchen scraps in a way that benefits the garden and keeps stuff out of landfill.

What about recycling? Homeowner Béa Johnson says, “So much recycling really goes to waste, so you need to try to reduce that, too.” They are diligent about taking reusable containers to the store for food and eliminating junk mail, and their tidy pantry and closets would inspire anyone to minimize and simplify!

How much trash does your family generate in an average week? If you coaxed everyone in the household to get on board, could you reduce it by 50 or 75 per cent? Or 80 or 90 per cent? We’re down to about half a can per week, but the recycling bin is full every two weeks when it gets picked up — so we have a long way to go. The Johnsons have motivated me to try harder to reduce our recycling and trash. If they can do it, why can’t we?

Homework assignment #25: Try to reduce your family’s waste to zero this week, and let us know how it goes in the comments section below.

For more inspiration, you might enjoy the Johnson family’s blog, The Zero Waste Home.

P.S. In case you’ve just joined us, the January Money Diet is a challenge to take a 31-day break from nonessential spending. You can learn more about the money diet here — and jump right in!

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Win a Deluxe Happy Simple Living Gift Basket

In honor of the January Money Diet, I’ll be giving away a gift basket chock-full of home and garden goodies plus several books at the end of the month. On January 31, 2013, I’ll draw one random name from everyone who commented during the month and that lucky person will win the gift basket. I hope you’ll stop by often this month and share your own ideas, thoughts and experiences about taking a 31-day break from nonessential spending.

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About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of six books about home design and food. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Day 23 of the January Money Diet – Try Alternative Transportation

Welcome to of the January Money Diet, a challenge to take a 31-day break from nonessential spending. If you’ve just joined us, you can learn more about the money diet here — and jump right in!

Paris Bicycles at Happy Simple Living

Bicycles in Paris – Photo by slettvet

Yesterday’s post was about saving money on fuel, and today we take it one step further. Could you try to eliminate using gas or other fuel, even if it’s just for a quick errand? Could you ride your bike to the post office? Or snowshoe, or cross country ski to the grocery store? Or ride your horse, or your llama, to work? Or take the bus, or the train? Or try carpooling? Or put on your walking shoes and stroll?

Homework Assignment #23: Try to get yourself from Point A to Point B without driving your personal automobile sometime in the next three days. How did you feel? Who did you encounter along the way? Let us know about your experience.

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Win a Deluxe Happy Simple Living Gift Basket

In honor of the January Money Diet, I’ll be giving away a gift basket chock-full of home and garden goodies plus several books at the end of the month. On January 31, 2013, I’ll draw one random name from everyone who commented during the month and that lucky person will win the gift basket. I hope you’ll stop by often this month and share your own ideas, thoughts and experiences about taking a 31-day break from nonessential spending.

—————————————————————————-

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of six books about home design and food. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.