Monday, September 10, 2012

Easy Changes for a Better Life

One year ago, or just over it, I could never ever have believed that my family would be living the way we are today.  We have so far to go, and are in most areas frightfully delinquent compared to my sister-authors, but I feel great satisfaction and joy in our lifestyle and in our continued improvement.

The moral of this story is that what seems overwhelming becomes easy if we break it down, priority by priority.  Here are some good changes we have made in our family for better health, and better stewardship of the environment, over the last year or so (in no real order).

 By Cameron 

  • We buy organic produce, dairy and meat whenever possible (especially the latter two)
  • We eat grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chickens/eggs, locally produced when possible
  • We grind our own grain (and often sprout it, and often soak it)
  • We eat less grain in general.  Once upon a time it was pasta at least 2x a week, and now it's maybe once a month.
  • We soak our beans and nuts
  • We make our own bread 50% of the time (more than that until our bread maker broke)
  • We make our own snacks --- homemade crackers, dehydrated fruit, tortillas, granola, fresh veggies, ice cream, etc.
  • We drink raw milk
  • We have dramatically reduced our plastic consumption.  We use glass containers with lids to store leftovers (an initial investment that makes a whole lot of sense over time).  We reuse jars and bottles for other storage.  We use real plates and forks when we go on picnics.  And when we remember, we bring our own cloth bags for shopping.
  • We recycle
  • We haven't had paper towels or napkins around in a good 4-5 months, using rags and cloth napkins instead
  • We take fermented cod liver oil daily
  • All of our soap products, detergents, cosmetics, lotions, sunscreens, etc. are rated 0-2 on EWG's Skin Deep website
  • We avoid preservatives, GMOs, estrogen-containing foods (like soy), growth hormones, and processed sugars
  • Though perhaps an unnecessary luxury, we love sleeping in our organic cotton sheets
  • I make my deodorant from scratch
  • I use a squatty potty.  Funny as that may sound, it has made a world of difference.
  • I virtually never wear heels anymore, and gave almost every pair I own away.  When I hike, run, or go walking, I wear Vibrams.
  • I pay close attention to the way I stand and sit for good alignment, and I sit in a chair less than ever
  • We avoid unstable oils and mainly cook with coconut oil (and use it for lotion, salves, etc.)
  • We seek natural remedies first for everything.  Two comments on this: neither of us has gotten a cold since we started drinking raw milk a year ago (I used to get 2-3 per year).  The exception was when we went out of town for 3 weeks and had none to drink.  The other comment is that since we made the decision to move toward natural remedies, we have never needed anything else.  1.5 drug-free years and counting.
  • We have no processed sugar in our house
I can't emphasize enough that while this seems like an overwhelming set of changes, it wasn't hard at all!  I didn't vigorously pursue this lifestyle --- it just naturally changed as my priorities changed, one shopping trip or meal plan at a time.

We still have a long way to go, but I'm not afraid anymore. 

Things I want to do in the near future, or eventually
  • Grow a garden
  • Make all our bread
  • Ferment stuff (at least I think I want to do this)
  • Make a standing work station in my office and at home so I don't have to sit to work at the computer.
  • Cloth diaper.  (Eek, why do I keep putting this off!  It's not so hard.) 
  • Drive less
  • No more plastic wrap or bags
  • Walk a few deliberate miles on a daily basis 
What's next for you?


  1. My wife, 3 kids and I have been without a vehicle for about a month and a half. We barely miss it. We bike, walk or use public transit everywhere we go. It was a choice that we weren't forced into, but one that we really wanted to try. I think some people wonder how we do it and most of the credit goes to my wife. But the town we live in is very accommodating for that type of living. We'll see how long we last when winter comes.

  2. BTW it took me 6 tries to get the word verification right to actually post a comment. I understand why they are used, but those things are annoying.

  3. I'm just curious to know what you use to grind your grains and what you like or don't like about it. Do most grains work pretty much the same?

    1. We have a wondermill junior, a hand grinder. I'm pretty confident it's the best hand-grinder out there. I can grind one cup of hard red wheat in about 2 minutes. It is also a very versatile mill --- you can switch the stone burrs out for steel ones and grind oilier things like nuts and seeds into butter (haven't tried this yet). We also can remove the handle, attach a drill bit adapter, and grind things with our power drill when we have to grind larger amounts.

      In retrospect, though, I might go with an electric grain mill next time. The hand mill is perfect if you only need 1-3 cups of flour, but if I ever want to make a batch of bread, I take my grain to my mom's to use her mill.

      Some grains grind much faster and easier than others. It depends on the hardness and size of the grain.

      Good luck grinding!

    2. I've found as far as cooking, specifically baking, grains that are gluten free, such as millet, bake quite differently. I started experimenting when making cookies by adding some millet flour to my spelt flour. I found the taste is the same, (for me), but the more millet I use the less my cookies hold shape. I'm still experimenting, but I assume I just need to keep adding more flour to get the stiff quality most cookie doughs should have. I'll get back to you once I know!

  4. Yay cloth diapers! Also, for the squatty potty, couldn't you just use a step stool?

    1. Yes, except ideally your feet are on either side of you, so something that wraps around (or two stools) works best. We ordered the squatty potty because I knew that I wouldn't take the time to put another object in place every time I used the bathroom, due to laziness. I feel like it has been a very good investment.

    2. I got a squatty Potty too. I never knew what I was missing out on. They are honestly revolutionary.


  5. Hi,

    I was wondering if you accepted any guest posting regarding women's health and POP on your site? I couldn’t manage to find your email on the site. If you could get a hold of me at, I would greatly appreciate it!


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