Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Make your own toothpaste

I'm sick to death of my toothpaste. Well, not literally, but I don't like all the plastic involved in the tubes of toothpaste we use. Not to mention the crap that goes into the toothpaste.

I've tried various "green" toothpastes and am still not impressed. Plus, I still have the tube to deal with.

Have any of you had success in making your own toothpaste? I've found several recipes online and they all seem to follow the basic ingredients of:

3 parts baking soda
1 part salt

To each half cup of above tooth powder, add:
3 teaspoons glycerin
10-20 drops of flavoring (peppermint, wintergreen, anise, cinnamon)

Mix and add enough water or hydrogen peroxide to reach your desired consistency. Squeeze the mixture into a small refillable plastic squeeze bottle or any container of your choosing that won't leak. Here are some other recipes to try.

Does anyone have a favorite recipe?

[By the by, if you missed yesterday's giveaway, don't forget to check it out. You have until Saturday evening to enter.]

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Reader appreciation day!

Howdy there and welcome to Crunchy Chicken's reader appreciation day. (Yes, I love referring to myself in the third person.)

I just wanted to thank all of you for reading and commenting on my blog. I'm having a lot of fun sharing my (oftentimes) nutty approaches to saving the environment. Plus, having a couple thousand people to read books with, plan meals with and discuss bodily functions is more exciting than, well, doing it alone.

So, in honor of you guys, who help make my life sane when it's clearly not, I want to do something for you.

What's that, you say?

It's a giveaway! I'm giving away a $50 gift card to the seed catalog/supplier or nursery of your choice. All you have to do is enter your name in the comments section and the winner will be drawn at random.

I want to support you for growing your own vegetables and fruit trees and to help show you that making the investment is worth all the work. How many other hobbies do you have that turn dirt into something you can eat?

So, you have until Saturday (2/2/08) at 6:00 p.m. PST to enter [Contest closed!]. The winner will be announced on Sunday, 2/3.

Don't be late!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Affluenza book discussion (chapters 6 - 10)

Affluenza: The All-Consuming EpidemicHere is the discussion post for the second installment of the Affluenza, The All-Consuming Epidemic book club. Next Tuesday, I'll start posting the discussion questions for the In Defense of Food book club.

"Two book clubs?" you say? "That's crazy!" Yes, it is.

So, you can look forward to dueling book club posts with each book getting a discussion post every other Tuesday. Got it?

Chapter 6. Family convulsions: In this chapter, the authors suggest that affluenza breeds a certain type of discontent in family relationships, especially marriages that start off with a huge spending spree (wedding and honeymoon), producing large debt right at the outset and expectations for lots of acquisitions (wedding presents and purchases to set up house).

Family time is spent on shopping trips and people get into the mindset of buying the next, new improved item to make themselves feel better. This sort of mentality can bleed into personal relationships where one starts looking into "upgrading" their spouse for a better, newer, more flashy version.

Do you feel like you are always on the hunt for the new improved product or clothes? Do you ever consider that you could do better in your relationships with others?

I'd also like to take a look at the inverse of this problem, since I don't think too many readers of my blog or this book fall into this category. At least, I hope not. It's the problem where your spouse wants to spend a lot and you have all of a sudden become anti-consumerist (or maybe you always have been). What kind of strain does this have on your relationship with your significant other and how do you handle their desire for the latest gadget or whatever their interests are?

Chapter 7. Dilated pupils: Manufacturers have been direct marketing to kids for years now, but the increase in advertising where the negative portrayal of parents is a relatively new phenomena. Instead of the "listen to your parents, for they are wise" message many of us grew up with, kids are now bombarded by this smug, "we [the product manufacturers] really know what you need, your parents are schmucks" message. It's totally subversive and blatantly corruptive.

For those of you with older kids, or even younger ones, do you get any of this message repeated to you from your kids? If so, do you explain to them that they are being manipulated by people who just want their money (just not so directly)? Does it work or is the advertising message too powerful?

Chapter 8. Community chills: With suburban sprawl and big box chain stores pushing out independent stores, the concept of community is going extinct. There are fewer and fewer community gathering places and the culture of driving home, parking in your garage and closing the door is becoming commonplace.

For many of us, it is a trade-off. We choose to live in areas with more vibrant communities and cultural centers in spite of poorer schools, crime and other safety issues. So, in spite of having great public libraries and parks, we don't trust sending our kids there on their own because of the perceived risk.

How do you decide? Would you rather live in a suburb that lacks personality but has the benefits of newer, larger homes and better schools. Or would you pick the older, urban neighborhoods with shady safety, but with more cultural opportunities, independent stores and community areas?

Chapter 9. An ache for meaning: From a study quoted in the book they found that "middle-income people [are] deeply unhappy because they hunger to serve the common good and to contribute something with their talents and energies, yet find that their actual work gives them little opportunity to do so. They often turn to demands for more money as a compensation for a life that otherwise feels frustrating and empty."

If you don't have a job that is fulfilling (and most of us don't because, alas, those types of jobs generally don't provide a living wage), what do you do to stop the ache? Do you volunteer, donate your time in other ways, etc.?

Chapter 10. Social scars: In this chapter, the authors argue that pushing the ideals of affluenza on the masses creates an upper class that keeps on consuming and a lower class that can't possibly afford to obtain that lifestyle so they resort to crime because it's too difficult to live with dissatisfaction and feelings of worthlessness.

Is there merit to this assumption and, if so, how do we turn off this message being fed to the poor?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Holy cow! I made my own butter

As I was looking through the fridge yesterday doing my meal planning for Project Nowaste, I noticed we had about a pint of opened conventional heavy whipping cream that was a couple days past its pull date, leftover from the holidays. I didn't want to toss it and I didn't exactly have a need for that much whipping cream, so I decided to do something I've been planning on doing for a real long time. Make butter.

So, I took a mason jar, poured the whipping cream inside and warmed it up to about 60 degrees. Then I put a plastic lid on it and started shaking it. Like a crazy lady. I took a break in the action and checked it when it stopped sounding liquidy. Inside the jar was a beautifully sweet smelling, lightly whipped concoction. I put the lid back on and started shaking it. Like a total nutball.

The instructions I was following (from the book Hobby Farm that I got from the library this weekend) cautioned against shaking too vigorously once the whey started separating. I didn't know what I was exactly looking for and I didn't want to miss this so I was being extra cautionary. I shouldn't have. I should have just kept shaking it. Like a Polaroid picture. So I did. And lo and behold, at some random magical moment, the whipped cream started solidifying and the whey started separating and there I had a buttery mixture in my jar. I drained off the whey and shook some more until there wasn't much whey to drain.

Then I put the butter in a bowl, covered it with cold water and "rinsed" it until the water ran clear. This is really something you have to experience to understand, but the butter just gets smoothed out (I used a spatula) until it forms the consistency you like. At which point, I drained the water and put the butter into ramekins.

We were on our way out to the Sunday Farmers Market when I decided to embark on this project so I didn't have a whole lot of time, but that didn't stop me from sampling the butter straight up. Which I would never do with conventional, pre-packaged butter cause it would make me gag. But this stuff - you can eat it straight it's so good.

Next time I make it (and I'll be making this again next weekend since it ends up being rather inexpensive compared to organic butter in the grocery store - the local, organic cream is cheaper) I'll take more pictures of the process so you know what I'm talking about. I bet it will taste better with local, organic cream rather than the crap we had lying about. But, I saved some food and had a great time (and workout) in the process.

I tell you it was like freaking magic! I am so excited by how cool this is (okay I'm a total nerd, but you knew that already), that I'd say it's even more cool than handmaking soap. Almost as cool as childbirth. Okay, maybe I'm still on a butter making high. But you have to try this out at least once in your lifetime.

Update: For complete instructions on making your own butter, check out my post on making Handmade butter.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Just mensin' around

The dreaded beltSorry, men. This one is about menses. Since I haven't checked in on all you women since the DivaCup Challenge last year and I have a lot of new readers, I thought now would be a good time to get an idea of how you manage your menses.

So, ladies... unless you are menopausal (natural or otherwise) or your family has relatives that closely resemble New World monkeys, let us know how you manage things.

And guys, don't feel left out. If you have a woman in your life, feel free to vote on her behalf because, if you are reading this far, you probably know her feminine hygiene habits well enough for this highly scientific poll.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Project Nowaste - meal planning to reduce waste

Project NOWASTEIn this week's Project Nowaste post, I want to briefly discuss how to prevent having too much perishable food around. It's easy to lose track of what food you have in the fridge if you don't plan for meals when you go food shopping.

A lot of people don't plan for meals anymore and I think that's where a lot of the food waste comes from. So, to start, sit down every week (or two or whatever works best for you) and make a meal plan. Look through your fridge, freezer and cabinets and see what you have on hand that will be expiring soon. This will also help prevent you from buying more of something you already have enough of or won't be using that week. Now that you have an idea of what you have in stock, start planning your meals.

Organize your meals based on what will expire first. So if you have some chicken that's about to expire and some plain yogurt a day or so pass it's pull date, then make something with those items earlier in the week. Also, just to minimize your costs each week, you'll want to plan meals with products you have on hand, even if they are in no danger of expiring. This ensures that you keep a good rotation of non-perishables and you won't be stuck with 3 pounds of buckwheat that you have to use up all of a sudden further down the road when you finally realize it's really old.

Now, make a list of items that you don't have on hand and need for the meals you planned and try to limit yourself to purchasing just those items. If you do end up buying more than you think you'll eat because it's on sale or because it's in bulk and you want to stock up, then when you return from the store make sure that you freeze, preserve or otherwise store the additions to last longer.

If you are already doing this, then give yourself a pat on the back. If not, this will give you something to work on!

Friday, January 25, 2008

You know you're a hard-core environmentalist when...

Composting outhouseScoring:
Give yourself 1 point for each of the following where you can agree with the statement made.

1. You use cloth wipes instead of toilet paper and dream of getting a composting toilet

2. You line dry your clothes even though you own a brand new dryer

3. When your family visits your house they claim that you can hang meat in there it's so cold

4. You spend your free time fantasizing about getting solar panels

5. You'd rather live in a small cabin off the grid with no plumbing than in a mega-mansion on the beach

6. You know all about raising chickens even if you've never even seen a live one

7. You have a huge stash of gardening porn that you hide from your significant other

8. You think that sweating over a hot canner for hours on end is super fun!

9. You follow everyone around the house, turning off lights

10. Greenpa's suggestions sound totally reasonable

If your total is:

0 - 3:  What are you doing reading this post? You better start from the beginning.
4 - 6:  Not a bad start. Review the Low Impact Week suggestions to increase your score.
7 - 8:  You are a nut job in training!
9 - 10:  Congratulations! You are a hard-core environmentalist!

How do you score?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Crappy expensive appliances

Piece of $#!^ GE ProfileWhat's the story with poorly made appliances these days? I say "these days" because I have the impression that things manufactured fifty years ago lasted a lot longer. Or, at the very least, were easier to fix.

Case Study #1: our new refrigerator that we purchased a year and a half ago when we bought our house. The fridge the previous owners left here was disgusting and the dimwits that painted the interior of the house before putting it on the market decided to store all their painting supplies in the empty fridge. For weeks. Blech.

Anyway, we bought a fancy new Energy Star GE Profile stainless steel refrigerator with french doors. Let me tell you it was not cheap. I'm wishing we had gotten a cheapo Kenmore instead because it's not worth the cost. About two months ago a little plastic hinge thingy snapped off the door. This little piece of plastic is what ensures that the door remains closed. For the most part it stays closed without it, but when you close the other door, the pressure pops the "broken" door back open. So, you have to be extra vigilant about making sure both sides are closed.

Why don't we get it fixed so that we don't accidentally refrigerate the entire kitchen? Well, because in order to fix this tiny plastic piece, we need a new door. For $800. Needless to say, GE changed the way they manufacture this style and no longer puts such a stupid plastic piece on it because we aren't the only people having this problem. So, for now we are on fridge door watch. And when I get around to it, I'll try hot gluing the piece back in to see if that helps.

Piece of $#!^ Sharp CarouselCase Study #2: our new microwave that we bought also at the same time (we left all our appliances as part of the sale of our old house). This is a not-extravagant but not-cheap stainless steel Sharp Carousel microwave. In order to use it, there is a touch pad with the numbers, Start, Stop, Cancel, etc. You get the picture.

Well, about 2 weeks ago the touchpad starting losing touch. So, on occasion we can get the Cancel button to work and sometimes the "Add a Minute" button since that's the only one that will work to get it started.

I don't want to get rid of the microwave since it otherwise works great. Except for the not being able to start it problem. Is there any way of fixing or replacing the touchpad on new microwaves? I suppose if I can't find someone to fix it or replace the touchpad, I'll tinker around with it myself.

Another point I want to make here is this: if it costs more to fix something than it costs to buy something new, do we have the responsibility to keep it out of the landfill? I think we do, but does anybody ever actually do this?

Did we become a throwaway society because we couldn't get things fixed or can we not get things fixed because we are a throwaway society?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Relative costs of new energy

Soaking up the sunI was reading the latest issue of High Country News last night and they had an article about the costs of energy with some numbers I thought I'd share with you, because I found it somewhat interesting.

Here are the wholesale prices per kilowatt-hour (kwh), not including subsidies:

Hydropower: 4 to 8 cents per kwh
New geothermal power: 4.5 to 7.5 cents per kwh
New wind power: 5 to 8 cents per kwh
New coal power: 6 to 8 cents per kwh
New natural gas: 6 to 10 cents per kwh
New solar power: 13 to 18 cents per kwh

As you may notice, the costs are all over the map for "cleaner" sources like wind and solar. I suspect that, as these types of energy sources become more available via the grid, the costs will come down. And you'll see natural gas and coal continue to rise (some argue we are seeing peak coal now as well).

So, how to plan going forward? For example, if you have a choice of which kind of energy you buy or if you are planning on replacing appliances such as furnaces or water heaters, you'll want to look into cheaper, greener supplies. Many municipalities have a "green energy" option where you can purchase green fuels for a higher cost now, but as the costs of those fuels become cheaper with volume we may see an adjustment there.

Some fuels I wouldn't count on having much later are oil and coal. Probably natural gas, too. Although there are still large natural gas deposits, I bet that the amount of energy involved to extract them will exceed the energy acquired from the extraction, particularly since cheap oil won't be around to help out.

As a side note, apparently the U.S. is running out of helium as well. The majority of helium is trapped within deposits of natural gas and as we capture natural gas, the helium is released. We are predicted to run out of helium in the next 8 years. Why is this a problem? Well, because we use it for science and technology, the biggest use is as a coolant.

Anyway, if you are looking into long term energy sources and your personal usage, these are a few things to keep in mind. I'm sure a lot of you out there are more expert in these things than I, so if you have comments or corrections, please add them to this post!

Monday, January 21, 2008

The end of incandescents

Did you know that as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the U.S. is phasing out incandescent bulbs?

That's right, starting in 2012, 100 watt bulbs will no longer be around. 75 watts will be phased out in 2013 and 60 watt bulbs go to the light in 2014. These bulbs will supposedly be replaced by more efficient bulbs such as CFLs.

I think this is good news, although I'm still concerned of the mercury disposal associated with throwing out CFLs. We really need to have an easy and cheap way of disposing our CFLs otherwise, with this forced changeover, I'm afraid the majority of people will just throw them in the trash. Then they will be headed straight for the landfill and possibly, the groundwater.

The other problem is that most people just aren't educated enough about the problems with CFLs. Do you know what to do if you break a CFL bulb? Most people don't. The EPA considers a broken CFL to be a "hazardous waste spill". You are supposed to leave the room and air it out for at least 15 minutes to let the mercury vapors settle down and then clean up the room carefully, wiping the floor with damp paper towels that should be disposed of outside. And don't use a vacuum, or the mercury vapor will be dispersed, plus you'll have all that junk in your vacuum. And then there are those who just pooh-pooh the dangers of CFLs. Who is right?

So, while I'm glad to see that more energy savings are on the horizon, I think there are still some holes in the plan that need filling. What about recycling centers that accept CFLs? Well, you have to drive there to recycle them and depending on where you live, the amount of gasoline to get there probably outweighs the savings from switching to CFLs in the first place.

In Seattle, we have stores where you can drop off your CFLs, but it costs money and they aren't all conveniently located. What kind of CFL recycling do you have in your area?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

In Defense of Food - bonus book club poll

In Defense of FoodMichael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, has a new book out titled, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. I recently picked it up (hey, it was on sale and I had a Christmas gift card) and started looking through it. I think it would make a great reading addition to the eating aspect of Project NoWaste.

So, I wanted to throw out the idea of running two book clubs simultaneously. We are already reading Affluenza, the book about curbing your spending. This new one is all about food consumption and it matches up nicely with being aware of what you are eating à la the Project.

If we started a new book club, I would begin posting discussions in early February so everyone has time to obtain it. If you have issues getting it from the library and need to buy your own copy, well you can assuage your purchasing guilt by passing it on to a friend when you are done or selling it to a used bookstore which I'm sure would be happy to take it off your hands.

What think ye?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Project Nowaste - diet and exercise

Project NOWASTENow that you've done your calculations to find out how much you should weigh as well as how much food you are throwing out during the week as food waste, it's time to discuss how to get to your goal weight.

The most obvious way of doing so is the old diet and exercise routine. Frankly, regardless of how many fad diets, books, and other get-thin programs there are out there, it all comes down to one simple concept:

If you take in more calories than your body burns, you will gain weight. If you take in less calories than your body burns, you will lose weight. Sorry, I don't have a Crunchy Chicken wand with super enlightening weight loss magic. The trick is to balance everything correctly. And that's where we all need some magic.

The calorie input/output part can be managed in various ways:

1. Eat less
2. Exercise more
3. Eat less and exercise more

If you go with just the eating less part, you will eventually lose weight, but you'll keep it off successfully only if you do it really gradually with losing nor more than one or two pounds a week. The problem with just focusing on the food is that it is easy to go overboard and decide that if I eat 400 calories less a day, then eating 800 calories less a day is even better. The good news is it's not better. So eat. For most people it's unhealthy to eat less than 1400 calories a day. Some (shorter) people can push it to 1200, but I think you're courting problems.

If you severely limit you calorie intake, your body switches over into starvation mode. So, even though you are eating less, your body thinks that Armageddon is here and starts storing up like mad. That's why you'll see yourself gaining weight even though you are only eating 800 calories a day. You will also find that you will hit a point where your resolve can't keep up and you'll eat more than you should. A lot more than you should. That's because your body will eventually convince your brain (no matter how hard you try) that the entire chocolate cake sitting in front of you needs to be eaten. Now. When you are that hungry you just can't think very clear. Few people have that sort of resolve.

What about just exercising and not worrying about diet? Well, I think that can be a successful way of managing your weight. Unless you miscalculate how many calories you consume during the day. Once you start exercising your body will crave more calories. So, not only will you be more hungry, but you also may have a false sense of how many calories you burned during your exercise. You end up convincing yourself that you've "earned" that extra calorie-laden item. And you end up not losing weight. Then you get disgruntled because you are exercising more and think you are eating less, yet the scale won't budge.

Does any of this sound familiar? If it does, you are not alone. The big problem here is that you are fighting against millions of years of mammalian evolution. All intent on making sure that you survive during famine and engorge during feast. Unfortunately, in the U.S. it is feast all year long. And with the plethora of high-fat, easily acquired food, our biology drives us to stack it on. Even if you're a vegan, you still can succumb to the same drive to survive, it just takes a little more work.

Where does this leave us? Well, it's not an easy road, but the trick that works is being aware of your caloric intake and exercising. You just really can't overestimate how many calories you are burning because then the balance is back out of whack. You see why it's so hard to lose weight?

So for this week, I want you to be aware of how much you eat. If you're up for it, write down what you eat and calculate out how many calories you are consuming. There are a lot of calorie calculators out there to help you out. If you want to be real honest with yourself, spend some time actually measuring and weighing your food with a kitchen scale if you have one, because it's real easy to over or under-estimate.

As for exercise, it's a little harder to discern how many calories you are burning. If you work out at a gym, do not trust the calorie calculators on the machines. The best way of calculating calories burned is based on your weight, exertion level and exercise type. I can't attest to the accuracy on the online calculators, but there are dozens out there that you can try. If you don't exercise at all, this task is an easy one. For now.

Based on the information you collect this week, you'll have almost all the numbers you need for how to go from here. Just be patient with yourself. I'm not advocating a lose weight quick scheme here, but a lifelong change.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Avocado bounty

Big bowl of avocadosMy brother sent me an email yesterday taunting me with a picture of all the avocados he harvested from his tree in their backyard. So far they have picked 22 avocados with at least as many more still on the tree.

Did I mention that he lives in San Diago? I'm hoping they'll freeze the leftovers so the next time we're visiting we can try them.

The lemon treeTo make matters even more tortuous, he also has a lemon tree. All the better for helping preserve the avocados with the lemon juice!

For those of you down south lucky enough to have a productive avocado tree, don't let your surplus go to waste. You can preserve the flesh easily by pureeing it and adding one tablespoon of lemon juice per two avocados. It will last in the freezer for at least 5 months, probably longer if you remove all the air first.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's soap season!

Castile with goat milk soapJanuary starts the urban homesteading doldrums. There's not much to do except for making tons of soups and toasty yeast breads. Around here, there's not a whole lot of garden work to be done, except for doing a little weeding, planning for this year's crop and mooning over the seed catalogs. Canning and freezing are projects that are months off.

So, what should we be doing with our time? Well, I've designated January through March as soap making season. Last weekend my sister-in-law came over and we made a cold process Castile soap (100% olive oil) with goat's milk. This weekend I'm hoping to make a coconut oil and cocoa butter soap. The hardest part is waiting the four weeks for the bars to cure.

I've written before about my fascination with making soap, and now is the perfect time of year to get back into it. I'd like to make enough soap in the next few months to last us all year. If I plan things right, we'll also have enough leftover for next year's homemade Christmas gifts.

If you are interested in making soap, my favorite reference book is The Handmade Soap Book. It's great for beginners as well as those seasoned pros out there looking for good recipes. Plus, all the pictures make for great soap porn.

If doing the cold process method is too intimidating, you can always try out melt and pour soap making. Personally, I don't find it as challenging and, since you don't have much control over the ingredients into making the soap base, it's not as fun. But, you don't have to deal with the lye, so if you are a sensitive individual this may be the way to go.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Affluenza book discussion (chapters 1 - 5)

Affluenza: The All-Consuming EpidemicWelcome to the first discussion post for the Affluenza, The All-Consuming Epidemic book club. The chapters in this book are rather quick and make for a fast read so I hope you are enjoying it. If you want to participate in the discussion (even if you haven't read the book), feel free to answer a few of the questions or, if you have time, all of them by posting your answers in the comments.

Chapter 1. Shopping Fever: This chapter introduces the fact that many Americans view shopping not as a necessity, but as recreation.

How many of you consider going to the mall a social event? In other words, do you meet up with friends there or plan on going with your family on the weekends as "family time"? If you do spend a lot of time at the mall, is it just window shopping or do you oftentimes find yourself mindlessly buying things you don't really need because the items looked nice or were on sale?

For those of you who eschew malls (and, I guess, also for those who don't) do you spend a lot of time shopping online or buying from catalogs? I really can't believe people watch the Home Shopping Network, but I suppose there are some out there so I'll include that as well. For catalog shopping, do your purchases always follow right after a catalog delivery or do you keep them and reference them later? Do you find that you buy things you don't need but because the presentation looks great or the price is seemingly "cheaper" you do it anyway?

Chapter 2. A Rash of Bankruptcies: Debt is something Americans have a huge problem with. Even children receive applications for credit cards and, with the culture of "shopping to help the economy", it's no wonder that people are overspent, over-mortgaged and overwhelmed.

Do you have credit cards and if so, do you pay them off every month or do you just pay the minimum? If you have a lot of credit card debt have you consolidated your debt or have you thought about doing so? I'm always impressed by how much people spend just on their credit cards. If you're willing to share with the rest of us, how much credit card debt do you have and/or how much do you have to pay each month just to stay afloat? How much do you pay each month in interest?

Most Americans don't put much into savings each month. Are you able to save any money each month? Or is it always, "we'll start saving once we pay off the credit cards?"

Chapter 3. Swollen Expectations: Aaah, living up to the Joneses. A nearly impossible task because just as you think you are getting close, the Joneses seemingly got a raise and are still out of reach. It's extremely wearing and stressful always trying to obtain a lifestyle that will always be just beyond your budget. But you'll keep trying. And manufacturers and marketers will make sure that scenario will always remain to keep them in business.

Do you feel like things are never enough? That there is an incessant pressure to have the newest electronics and furniture, bigger cars and homes, latest fashions, etc.? Once you buy a highly coveted object, how do you feel? Are you happy for a short while and then depressed and looking for the next great thing or are you satisfied with it for as long as you have it?

Chapter 4. Chronic Congestion: In the attempt to always be at the cutting edge of well, pretty much everything, we buy a lot of stuff. But that stuff doesn't satisfy us like we thought it would, so we buy different stuff, hoping that will help solve whatever insatiable need is driving this desire to acquire more and more. When did "declutter" actually become a word we all started using?

Do you feel stressed in your home, office or car when it's full of junk? How do you feel after going through the house and recycling and donating all the things you don't want or need?

Chapter 5. The Stress of Excess: Many people are overwhelmed by the number of choices when they buy something and spend a lot of time worried that they made an incorrect decision. Additionally, when people have excess spare time, it oftentimes is spent watching television which fuels the desire for more stuff. These "swelling expectations" force us to keep up with the latest products and work more to afford them. In turn, we sleep less and are more strung out as a result.

How stressed out are you by the feeling that you need more? The desire to have the huge home with the granite counter tops and the lowered baking center in the kitchen. The master suite with separate closets, a soaking tub, dual jets in the shower and a separate room just for the toilet. What feeling do you get when you think of catalogs from Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table, Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel? What about the fancy car, even if it's choosing between the Toyota Camry hybrid over the Honda Civic hybrid? Can you step back, look at what you have and be satisfied with it or, if you do really need something, is getting a used version or the low-feature model okay?

-------------------------------

Whew! That was a stressful introduction. I better go buy something online...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Those crazy environmentalist nut jobs

2008 Environmental Nutjob AwardSharon of Casaubon's Book and I have a joke going about who's the crazier of us two. She's more peak oil, cautionary, make changes now or else (and I say that in a good way) and I'm more change your habits because it'll be damn fun. Even though it probably won't be. For more information on the effect she has on others, see her post yesterday.

She suggested a poll and well, since I'm at the very least a crazy poll chicken, I can't help myself. This wouldn't be as fun without including some other environmental bloggin' nut jobs around, too. And this isn't a popularity contest - who do you think is the most out there?



If you haven't seen these other blogs, I encourage you to check them out:
Casaubon's Book
Little Blog in the Big Woods
No Impact Man
Green as a Thistle

Greenpa and I are the only ones not writing professionally about the environment (outside of our blogs which are, needless to say, not professional) so I'm not sure if we get extra points for that?

If you're a blogger and are not included, do not be offended. I wanted to include only those of us who are moderately tetched. If you are included and are offended, well, I do mean it in the best possible way.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Project Nowaste - keeping track of food waste

Project NOWASTEIn this week's Project Nowaste post, we are concentrating on food waste instead of over-eating. For those of you interested in the weight loss component of this project, see last week's post.

Last week we calculated out how much we should weigh and how much we have to lose. This week I want you to keep track of how much food you throw out, whether it goes into the compost pile, food waste pickup or the garbage. You may need to keep a separate container to hold all of it and weigh it at the end of the week or you can weigh it on a day by day basis and total it up at the end. It's up to you. Primarily what we are trying to achieve with this is how much we are throwing out.

What I want you to save and weigh (because this is more helpful than total waste) is just the food that could have been eaten. So, you don't need to keep track of egg shells, coffee grounds, banana peels, etc. You get the picture. This will tell you how much you are actually wasting. In other words, how much food that could have been eaten but was either left to rot or too much food was taken at a meal or snack.

One thing you need to be careful in doing this project is to not get trapped into eating more than you should (to stay at your weight) just so you are not wasting food. Instead, concentrate on not buying, making or taking too much food on your plate so that, while you are essentially "cleaning your plate" you aren't stuffing yourself full. This will take some time to learn how much is too much, but that's what this project is all about. We'll cover this in detail in future posts.

So, your assignment for the next week is to see how much food you are throwing away that, under better circumstances, could have been consumed.

One caveat - now is also probably a good time to clean out your fridge and cabinets of food past it's consumption date, but you'll need to use your discretion as to whether or not to count it in your totals. Counting month's old food as waste for the week will skew your total weekly food waste disposal.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The gardening perv

That's quite a melon!Yeah, you. You know who you are.

You get your piles of seed catalogs in early January, pore over them like porn during lock-down, and can't stop thinking of those glossy spreads of juicy melons, succulent Big Boy tomatoes and Yamato Extra Longs.

Problem is, it's still January. So, you start fantasizing about grow lights. Next, you'll be lusting over greenhouses and cold frames, with thoughts of running your fingers across their cold, hard bodies.

You are a gardening perv. Just admit it.

I'm talking about you, Rachel.

How many more of you are out there?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Water savings

My most favoritest shower headI already previously mentioned how we are saving on electricity since we started low impact week changes back in June and I just got my water bill today. We saved 3,740 gallons of water over the same period last year.

What's different this year? Well, to start, my husband used to take showers at work five days a week (he worked out in the mornings before work) and now is showering at home since he's been home since September. I also had to switch out the water saving shower head to put in a shower accommodation for him. So, our water usage has definitely increased because of that.

Why has our total water usage dropped when it really should have gone up? I think it's because I'm bathing the kids only once a week. Last year, we were bathing them every night. We went down to every other night over the summer when my husband started feeling bad and I dropped it to twice a week while my husband was in the hospital. And, well, now I'm just too damn lazy to bathe them unless they really need it. Which, much to my surprise (which it really shouldn't be), they don't get too dirty.

Anyway, I'm hoping that next year at this time our water usage will be even lower. Mr. Crunchy will be returning to work part-time this month or next, but won't be working out just yet, so he'll still be showering at home. However, this post is kicking my butt into adding a water shut-off switch behind the accommodation thing I added to help him in the shower. I'm off to do it right now. I expect even greater savings after doing that!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What to do when you're dead

Ramsey Creek PreserveI've been meaning to write this post now for a couple weeks after seeing something in the New York Times Magazine about green burials.

I surely didn't realize what an environmental nightmare dying is. You figure there is probably some medical impact and a whole lot of plastic tubing unless you are fortunate enough to expire happily in bed. But then what? I don't like the idea of burial - we can't all be buried without running out of space eventually. But what about cremation? It seems pretty harmless, no?

Well, neither of them leave no footprint. Here are some fun facts to regale your friends with:

Cemeteries are an environmental problem just as a golf course is - there are gallons of water used to keep the grass green, tons of pesticides and herbicides used to keep the grounds clear of weeds, critters and trees, not to mention the gas fumes from all the mowing that goes on. And that's just what's above ground.

Cemeteries across the U.S. bury each year about 30+ million board feet of hardwoods (for caskets), 104,272 tons of steel (for vaults and caskets), 2,700 tons of copper and bronze (for caskets), and more than 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete (most cemeteries require a plot liner to prevent sinkholes when the coffins eventually decay). Before placement, 827,060 gallons of embalming fluid, which most commonly includes formaldehyde, is used on the bodies.

If you're looking at being green on the way out, a standard cemetery burial is probably not the way you want to go. What about cremation?

Cremation potentially causes air pollution due to the mercury in people's teeth. Don't have any fillings? You'll still be a pollutant strictly because cremation requires a container. They don't just huck your lifeless body into a big wood-fired pizza oven, you have to be in something. Most people generally don't choose the plain, unlacquered pine box, but opt for the formaldehyde kinds with plastic, brass-like handles which, when incinerated, release all sorts of toxins.

If you want to have the most environmental passing as possible with cremation, you'll want to go with a plain pine box. I believe you can also get a biodegradable cardboard coffin, but you'll have to check if this is acceptable at your local crematorium. Finally, let's not forget the amount of fossil fuels required for the cremation. Newer retorts (the pizza oven) use 50% less energy than older ones, so if this is the way you want to go, make sure you do your research while you still can.

Another option is to try to find an eco-cemetery, one that will bury you (unprocessed) in a relatively wild area with no headstone (an engraved small flat stone is okay) and plant trees nearby. You can be buried in a shroud, your favorite quilt or just straight up. Alas, there are only about 5 eco-cemeteries in the U.S. right now. So, if you plan on departing to a more natural environment, you'll have to hold off for a while.

Finally, you can do a home funeral, but just remember that it's illegal to bury a human's remains on private property not designated for burials.

Now, go update that will.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

No more (plastic) toys!

Yummy, chewy plastic farm crittersBurgermeister Meisterburger may have gotten it right. Well, not really, but I can't help myself from chanting "Burgermeister Meisterburger" with a German accent.

What's the point of this post? Well, a reader wrote in asking me to tackle the problem of plastic toys. Her children received some PVC-laden toys for Christmas from some well-meaning relatives. The reader tries to stick to eco-friendly and non-toxic toys and doesn't know what to do with them. With all the problems we've been hearing lately about lead-filled toys, it's a little scary.

So, what does one do with these toys received as gifts? Well, it depends on how old your child is and how aware of the toys they are. If they are young enough and wouldn't know the difference I would suggest trying to return them.

Most likely you won't have a receipt for the gift and you surely wouldn't want to let your friends and relatives know that you are displeased with their gift choices to ask for one. Many stores will allow you to return a product even without a receipt. Just call around and see who carries the item and whether or not they'll accept it without a receipt. Of course, this means that the toy must be in its original packaging and hasn't already been field tested. Usually a store will give you the lowest price on that product (for, say, in the last six months), but in my mind that's okay.

What to do with the money you received for the return? Well, if the child is older and knows you are returning the toy you can allow them to purchase an eco-friendly toy in exchange. This should keep everyone happy and it teaches them the value of money, too.

Okay, so let's say that the toy has either been already opened (you didn't know there was a seething pile of cancer-causing plastic inside) or you can't find a store that carries the item to return it. My suggestion is to donate it. I know this more or less pushes the toxins off on someone else. But I don't believe that throwing the item out serves much of a purpose particularly when there are thousands of families who aren't as concerned about having eco-friendly toys one way or another. So, it might seem like you are doing someone else a disservice, but until everyone is educated and is onboard with choosing non-toxic items, I think it's an acceptable solution.

If the child is older, donating toys may pose a problem as they'll probably not want to give up something they received. Instead of giving them the option of getting something else in exchange (and costing you money) I recommend letting them choose between several activities that they like doing. For example, going to the library once a week for a month, visiting their favorite park or beach more often (season permitting), going camping, etc. It depends on their interests. I guarantee they'll enjoy the experience more than what they are giving up.

Now, what if the item is for an older child and it's a highly coveted toy? Well, that's when your negotiation skills come into play. I'm sure by now if you stick to eco-safe toys you've already had discussions with them about the reasons why you choose them over more commercial toys. Remind them of why you'd like to return or donate the item and give them options for replacement (experiences or using exchange money) that will be satisfactory to both parties.

Ultimately, you are the parent, so you need to decide when it's important enough to, essentially, take away something from them for their safety or whatever your beliefs are. Although this is not quite the same but it's a useful example: no one would argue with you if you refused to let your child play with a bag of broken glass, nails and razor blades, even if the gift giver was well-meaning. If you feel that plastic toys are dangerous to your child, then you have the right to protect them.

What do you do with toys your children receive for gifts that you do not approve of, for whatever reason (too violent, made by unfair labor, questionable materials, too skanky, etc.)?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Is the Internet killing the earth?

The New Scientist recently reported that the amount of energy it requires to run the servers that supply the backbone for the Internet and information technology is extremely high. Like 2% of global emissions, the same as the aviation industry. I think we all know about flying and how much emissions are created, but usually you don't hear about the emissions associated with information and communications technology.

It's rather amazing, but it makes sense. Researchers found that the worldwide power consumption by computer servers overall had doubled between 2000 and 2005. A number of industry giants such as Intel, Dell, Microsoft, IBM and Sun are participating in a collaboration known as the Green Grid, which aims to reduce inefficiencies in data centers and switch to greener energy sources such as solar and hydro as well as converting alternating current from the mains to one-time direct current to reduce the load.

Don't think you use a data center? Well, anytime you download video, send an email or buy something online using a credit card, these transactions go through a data center. Between YouTube, free email with unlimited storage and other daily Internet experiences you are adding to the huge draw of energy required to keep things running.

So, are we bloggers a part of the blame? Are we contributing to global warming and the energy expenditure that we fight tooth and nail to reduce? Or does the information that we share and the inspiration that we provide counterbalance the cost of this network?

What do you think?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Prepping for Project NoWaste

Project NOWASTEHooray! Here we go.... It's Week 1 of Project NoWaste.

Now, many of you are interested in the weight loss aspects of this whole crazy idea. And many of you are interested in really just the food saving aspect of things. So, how do I balance the two out? Well, I think to start I'll alternate postings every week to cover topics related to the two concepts. Of course, you can do both or just one or whatever you want. Or you can ignore it altogether if you're not interested.

But, given the fact that it's a brand new year, sometimes it's easier to change your behavior. Or at least start it. As long as you can stick with it for a few weeks, oftentimes new behaviors become habits. Which is what we are gunning for here - lifetime habits of reduced consumption when it comes to food.

Anyway, this first post is going to concentrate on the over-eating aspect of Project NoWaste, simply because that was the initial idea for this project. Those of you out there who are blessedly already at a healthy, low-impact weight will have to wait another week for a more focused post on food waste.

So, where to begin?

I must admit this is wide open at this point and I want to get feedback from you all. What I want to do is get our baselines, and that means measurements. What you want to do with them is up to you. If you want to post them for god and country to keep yourselves honest, I'm totally down with that. We can have a biweekly weigh-in for those of you who want to. Kind of a Crunchy Watchers - but more public.

Either way you need to know how much you weigh and how tall you are if you want to know how much you should weigh. Let me clarify real quick on the should part. Everyone's weight is based on more than just a few simple calculations, but it's impossible to really cater this to 200 people, so I'll use what the insurance companies use. And that is the following:

Take your height. For the first five feet start with 100 pounds. For every inch over five feet, add five pounds.

For example, I'm 6'0" tall. So that means I should weigh 100 + (12 * 5) or 160 pounds. That is a rough figure. Ha ha.

Now, some people like to take into consideration their "frame" size. A rather unscientific, but somewhat useful method of determining your frame size is to take you dominant hand and wrap your thumb and forefinger around the opposite wrist (where the wrist bone is). If you can't reach those two fingers together you are "big" boned (sorry). If they just meet you are "medium" and if they overlap the nail bed you are "small" boned. Or you just might have stubby fingers. Like I said, this isn't exactly scientific.

So for me, I am small boned so I should weigh between 150 - 155 pounds (just to give you an example of how distorted our vision of weight should be, Gisele Bundchen, one of the highest paid models who is less than an inch shorter than I, weighs 115 pounds).

What to do with this highly useful info? Well, if you are big boned you can add 5 - 10 pounds to the base weight you calculated from your height. If you are small boned, subtract 5 - 10 pounds. If you are medium, you don't have to do a thing.

I'm sure there are many of you out there that will argue with this estimate and, like I said, there are many different ways of calculating your ideal weight, like BMI and whatnot, so if you have problems with this, then use whatever calculation you like. There are several weight calculators online, but I have found this one to be pretty accurate even if you don't like the results.

Anyhoo, now that we have an idea of where we need to be, we can calculate how much we have to lose.

Now, the big question. How to go about doing it. One pound is equivalent to 3500 calories. In order to lose that pound you need to either eat 3500 calories less than your body is expending or add exercise to burn those 3500 calories. I highly recommend a combination of both. The old "diet and exercise" deal.

So, go do some calculatin' and if you want to submit your numbers, by all means, add them to the comments. Next time we'll discuss how to get to your ideal weight.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Sex is greeny!

A few years ago, Greenpeace published The Greenpeace Guide to Environmentally-Friendly Sex, and I thought now is as good a time as any to recap their message. With my own comments, of course.

1. Do it with the lights off or, if you must see what you are doing, do it during the day.
This seems like a pretty reasonable request. Unless you are practicing something a little more XXX than most and there are safety concerns, you might want to spring for a low-watt CFL. Just in case.

2. If produce makes an appearance in your bedroom activities, then make sure it isn't genetically modified.
I'm less concerned about what's in it, than what's on it. If cucumbers are your best friend, make sure it's organic and wash it really well. Who needs pesticides in their privates? Uh, I suppose some people do.

3. Avoid oysters and other shellfish as aphrodisiacs and try something herbal instead.
While you're at it, for those of you out there who think that tiger penises will help you in bed, well, I'm pretty sure that the tiger needs it more than you do. Just use your own damn penis.

4. If a roll in the hay involves your yard, make sure you are using natural yard care practices.
Again, who needs bug spray on their bits? Now about those succulents... I highly recommend avoiding the cactus patch. Try the zucchinis instead.

5. Don't use fossil fuel based lubricants like petroleum jelly.
Since we're talking lube, most commercial brand lubricants have a number of different chemicals in them that people are sensitive too. Astroglide has a glycerin and paraben free product out now. Need a free sample? Firefly is an organic product that is safe for use with silicone, rubber or latex accessories and toys. "It is also great for underwater play!"

6. Avoid PVC and vinyl accessories as their production creates and releases dioxin. Stick to rubber and leather instead.
Leather is more expensive and not as stretchy, but who needs a guilt trip while having sex? "I really shouldn't be wearing this cupless PVC lace up corset. I should have gotten the studded leather bustier with choker instead.... I'm sorry, what was that honey? Do I mind if you do what?"

7. Share your showers and baths with a friend.
Well, that's just plain old good, clean advice.

8. If spanking's your thang, look for something certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Ummm. Okay.

9. Role playing games can be fun. We recommend playing "George Bush and Corporate America at the Earth Summit" or other S&M style games.
Wait a second. I think I got that one mixed up. Oh well, that brings me to...

10. Make love, not war.
Yeah. Don't be a Dick. Cheney. Crap, if I keep this up I'm going to have the Secret Service bugging my knickers.

So, as you head into your weekend filled with gardening and debauchery, keep in mind these fabulous tips from Greenpeace!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Movie Night: The 411 on electric cars and fuel cells

Who Killed the Electric Car?I recently had a poll regarding what people's opinions were on the "car of the future". I do realize that it's likely that our SOV mode of transportation may be at an end, or very likely, supplanted by an admixture of personal transportation (car, bicycle, foot) and public transportation.

I also recently watched, Who Killed the Electric Car, and learned a bit about the viability of the hydrogen fuel cell and the marketing machine behind it. Hence the poll. I wanted to get an idea of what people's impressions were of the alternative vehicles on the horizon.

So, I was a little saddened to see that a good 31% of respondents (out of 112 at this writing) thought that hydrogen fuel cells (HFC) were the way to go. Not that I can say anything negative of those who voted that way - that's not my intention and, frankly, up until a few weeks ago I didn't know squat about any of this. Which is why I feel like sharing this movie with y'all.

Car manufacturers have basically killed off their electric vehicle programs, citing that the battery technology was insufficient. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this is incorrect. The battery technology exists, it's just not being used by the major manufacturers. Why, you ask? Because Chevron (Cobasys) owns the patents to the battery technology and has been mostly unwilling to sell the batteries.

Another reason cited by the car manufacturers was that they claimed there was no demand for their electric cars in spite of having waiting lists. The actual reasons are probably still debatable, but let me share at least what I picked up as the reasons why car manufacturers and big oil don't like electric cars.

Actually, let me back up and just mention why car manufacturers like Honda and General Motors even developed them in the first place. California. Back in the 90s, California passed the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) mandate. Several car manufacturers started making electric vehicles to meet this mandate, leasing them to consumers to "test" them out. In the meantime, California was being sued by big oil, car manufacturers and the Bush administration so they couldn't enforce the mandate. As a result, the state's air resources board backed down on forcing manufacturers to produce a ZEV if they wanted to do business in California.

Subsequently, the car manufacturers killed their electric car programs and then went about recalling the vehicles they had leased out as part of the program and destroyed them all (save for a few that went to museums). In spite of the fact that the people leasing the cars were willing to purchase them outright.

Now, why doesn't big oil like the electric car? Well, there are still trillions of dollars of oil profits to be made, so why encourage consumers to stop buying it? With electric cars, energy can come from a myriad of sources, least of which is oil. Makes sense, no?

And, why don't car manufacturers like electric cars? What difference does it make to them as long as they can sell them? In order to sell cars, manufacturers have dealerships. And dealerships make a big chunk of their profits from.... maintenance. That's right. Well, with the electric car there's little maintenance. No oil changes, no complicated machinery. Just pump up and rotate the tires every now and again. I'm sure there are other reasons, like being in bed with big oil, but suffice it to say, they seem not interested in electric cars for a variety of reasons.

Damn, this is getting long.

Anyway, HFCs are being pushed as the next bestest thing by car manufacturers and the oil industry. Why the hydrogen fuel cell? Well, perhaps oil companies can supplant their profits by switching over to this "new" energy source and replacing their gas stations with HFC fueling stations. This makes the consumer still dependent on big oil (or big hydrogen?) for transportation rather than just charging up your car at home.

Of course, this assumes that the technology will ever become available. Ha ha ha. I'm kidding, right? No, we're still looking at a technology that is potentially decades off, if at all. In the meantime, let's all buy some more gasoline until we run out. Or until the profits run dry. It's a case of bait and switch.

There are a lot more details that I'm obviously not covering. If you want more information about all this and aren't impressed by my slip-shod reporting, I urge you to watch the movie or read the book, Plug-in Hybrids (I haven't read it but it's worth checking into).

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Full of beans

Big pile o' beansOne of the new things I've been doing around the Crunchy household this winter is making meals with more beans and less meat. Now, I'm not sayin' you should turn vegetarian to reduce your impact (although it's a good idea), but you should try reducing the amount of meat you have in your dishes and adding some organic or sustainably grown beans to make up for it.

You'll get the extra protein in addition to fiber and you'll be saving lots of money while you're at it. Pound for pound, beans are cheaper than meat. And I'm not talking gray, cheapo frozen meat that is past its pull date. By now, you should be looking more into grass-fed pastured critters if you are still eating meat.

If you opt for dried beans over canned you'll save even more money, and they taste a heck of a lot better, too. To be honest, I'm not a huge bean fan and when I've used them in the past they've always been canned. Well, not anymore. In the last few weeks I've used dried beans and I can't get over how much better tasting they are. And less mushy to boot.

Using dried beans always seemed like an enormous pain in the carcass, but I've found myself a few tricks of the trade I'd like to share with you to ease you into beaning up your diet. Plus, if you thought that canned beans were cheap, dried beans are ridiculously inexpensive and last pretty much forever if they are stored properly (in an tightly closed container). If you grow them yourself, the cost will be even more minuscule.

Now onto the hints and tips:

Soaking: WTF? Who has time to soak beans overnight? What if you do actually remember to soak the beans and then decide you don't want to use them that week and now you have a bowl of beans to deal with. Well, fret no more. This process only takes about an hour or so.

Put your beans in a pot and cover with 3 inches of cold water. Bring them to a boil and then take off the heat. Keep them covered for one hour and they are ready to go. Drain them as use them in your recipe. This method works great for kidney beans, navy beans and the like.

Cooking: What about those beans that take hours to cook, even after soaking them? We're talking about big ole beans like chickpeas (or garbanzos or whatever you like to call them).

These do require soaking overnight, but it's worth it. Make a paste out of the following, add water and beans and soak:

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon salt

Rinse thoroughly and you'll only need to cook them for about a half an hour (more if your water is really hard).

So, in sum, beans are low impact (if grown yourself or organically), inexpensive, highly nutritious, contain loads of fiber (a little too much maybe) and fill you up with not a whole lot of calories. If that's what you're after. And, you won't have to worry about colon cancer. Much. Well, at the very least, any excuse to avoid a colonoscopy is a good one.

Of course, if you like having a sluggish digestive tract, by all means, stick to the meats. I won't complain (unless it's CAFO meat).

If you are looking for a real kick-ass hummus recipe, mosey on over to Crunchy Chicken Cooks.

Who knew there was so much to say about beans?

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