Choose Wiser with Kristi Marsh

By Pam Denholm

Have you ever attended a South Shore Locavores evening? It is held on the third Thursday of Little Changesevery month at the Senior Center in Kingston and the range of topics is enlightening – one topic is at the heart of it all: local food! Most recently the featured speaker was Paula Marcoux on her outstanding book ‘Cooking With Fire’ – a MUST read that we will be covering in a future newsletter. But a while back, SSL hosted Kristi Marsh – Kristi is a cancer survivor, a mom of three, author of a book titled ‘Little Changes’ and founder of the website ‘Choose Wiser’. She was entertaining to listen to and I really liked her message, which was simple: do what you can, when you can. Organic choices are often not the most cost effective choices, and in today’s economic climate, many homes are on a tight budget and have to justify each purchase. We are one of them. Running a small business and we know all about tight budgets, juggling finances and justifying choices we have to make. Here are a few tips Kristi had to help make organic choices more affordable:

  • If you can’t buy all your fruits and vegetables under the organic label, just buy those that are on the ‘dirty dozen’ most contaminated list (tree fruit, berries, greens, cucumbers, peppers and celery)
  • Process your own food. Don’t reach for the baby peeled carrots for lunchbox snacks, or the chopped salad. Peel your own carrots, stick some in a jar of water in the fridge, throw some in the freezer. This applies to many fruits and vegetables and can be made especially easy if you get yourself a really good food processor. You pay for the convenience
  • Buy snacks like popcorn in bulk, and use a pot instead of the microwave. Microwave popcorn is double the price of a bag of popcorn seeds (by weight)
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle. Save leftovers for another meal and use as much of the food you prepare as you can. Pumpkin and squash seeds roasted make a great snack, so do baked potato skins. If you have something in your fridge nearing its ‘throw out’ date, freeze it or make a soup then freeze it. Try to reduce your food waste as much as possible. This will reduce how much food you have to buy, giving you a little more wiggle room to buy organic
  • Which brings us to our next point, invest in a chest freezer.
  • Don’t buy something you can make yourself. And no, we don’t have to go back to ‘the little house on the prairie’ days she reassures, but some things are super, super easy, like taco seasoning, tartare sauce, salad dressings – and then you know what goes into them!
  • Keep baking soda and vinegar in your house, and use them whenever you can – you’ll save a bunch on natural and organic cleaners
  • And then obviously, look out for sales and special deals and coupons

One good decision leads to another, do one thing at a time and in a year from now you will look at your pantry and realize how many products you have managed to ‘convert’ to healthy, chemical free or organic. Kristi also noted that it is easier to make these choices if you are raised with awareness than it is to transition, and so by being mindful of our food (cleaning product and cosmetic) decisions, we gift this ability and skill to our children.



They Call me Tree Hugger . . .

EarthBy Pam Denholm

My mom often used to shake her head, and teasingly tell me I was the postman’s child, or that she didn’t know where I came from.  I got her good looks and brains, she used to say, but the farm girl part – the part of me that prefers rubber boots to Prada heels and camping to room service; that I got from somebody else.

Before South Shore Organics, I was the one to start recycling initiatives at work, get rid of bottled water, and replace the donuts with a fruit bowl.  I was THAT girl.  I have been called ‘tree-hugger’, ‘earthy-crunchy’, ‘hippy-dippy’ and more often than not people have gone along with me a) because it was easier than having me harass them or b) to humor me, like patting me on the head and going ‘there-there, you can have your recycling station if it means that much to  you’.  I confess, I don’t think I have always been taken seriously.  But I’m okay with that, it’s a badge I wear with pride, and there are far worse things I could be called.

Doing what I do, I have the opportunity to reflect often on the choices we make, and how those choices impact our community, and our environment.  And I was talking to my mom on Skype the other day when she was telling me about an article she read that discussed our impact on the environment, and she said one thing in particular stuck with her: these choices we make are not important for the earth, the earth will be fine.  The planet has been around for 2 billion years, and it will more than likely be around for another 2 billion.  These choices are important so that we can keep the environment on planet earth conducive to supporting human life.

There you go, in that one statement, a lightbulb went off for my mom, and she understood what her tree-hugging-rubber-boot-wearing daughter had been trying to tell her for years.  Caring for the earth is not an act of generosity, it’s not an act of nurturing, or about placing a premium or value on the life of the seemingly insignificant, we are not saving trees, we are saving ourselves.   I learned something too.  I had been explaining it wrong.

So, to that end, as I, like everybody else, have been reflecting on the gifts and challenges of 2014, and pondering what I would like to do differently in 2015 – I realized that making pledges about me, my life, and my world are important.  Eat better, make more time for meaningful conversation with my children, or rather, communicate more mindfully so that I am not just asking for homework to be done and laundry to be put away – but actually having conversations with them – they are good resolutions to make positive changes.  And then too I decided I needed one extra, something that extends beyond me, an extra pledge or resolution that is about the big picture – I haven’t decided what it is yet, but it has to be outside my home, or business, and something that requires me to donate my time, even if it’s nominal.

I have asked my children to do the same, think of something they want to do, and we will be talking about it here as we pack boxes too.  And I would like to invite you join us!

The thing that we never get over, is that we contain our own future.

~ Barbara Kingsolver