Going Green For The Health of It

Although we lived in the city, I grew up in a pretty simple family compared to many of our neighbors and friends. There was no microwave, dishwasher or cable television in our home. No packaged cereals, boxed juice or single serving lunch snacks for school.

We grew and made nearly all our own food. My father was trained in horticulture and he studied bio-dynamic and organic farming in his spare time. He put all his knowledge to work on our gigantic family garden. I can’t tell you how¬† many times I cringed at the sight of another soggy sprouts, cucumber and tomato sandwich in my elementary school lunch! Living simply was a financial motivation for my parents, however I am thankful today for this upbringing because it was a healthy foundation that I would rely on later in life.

When I moved away from home, I craved and tasted the freedom of being able to pile every sugary boxed cereal into my grocery cart. I tried white bread for the first time and happily drenched it in that ever so sweet nutty chocolate spread. You know the one! Needless to say, I sampled and dabbled nearly every shelf on every isle for the next few years while my simple and nutritious upbringing was tucked away and forgotten.

While my taste buds were having a party, my body was in agony with all the unfamiliar foods and by the time I reached the age of 25, I was in a full blown health crisis. I had chronic fatigue, candida, constant infections, dull hair, skin and chronic illnesses at the turn of every season. While I was a passionate advocate of taking care of the environment during this time in my life, I did not take into consideration the importance of my own health.

Why am I telling you about my health crisis you might be wondering and how does this relate to going green?

Over time I found a way to heal myself, finally stopping the medications and constant aches and pains for good. Somewhere along the way it occurred to me for the first time that so many of my positive health choices also happened to be good for the environment. I realized that in my pursuit of health, I was naturally falling in to a green living lifestyle. Now, I have been an advocate for the environment for many years, but it was when I restored my health that I finally made the connection between our own personal health and the health of the environment.

I now believe that some of the biggest steps we can take towards a sustainable and green future are those that are focused on our own health first. Simple living guidelines such as having a small garden, buying as many locally grown organic fruits and vegetables as possible, not using the microwave, removing toxic cleaning products from the home, switching to natural skin and hair care products and limiting packaged processed foods all make a difference in our health and the health of the environment. These are just a few suggestions, but using these guidelines myself, they truly have made a difference in my own life. Actual measurable differences!

These days, much of my green contribution is to focus on doing what I can to stay healthy. Going green and being healthy is a journey best taken step by step. I hope my daughter will have fond memories, as I did, of a simple & nutritious life. I visited my family again recently and was proud to see the garden in full swing. We celebrated their purchase of 20 acres in the country where they plan to retire and grow the largest garden they have ever had. They still do not own a dishwasher, microwave, cable television or cell phone.

Original 5 Minutes For Going Green post.

You can read more from Monica at her blog Healthy Green Moms where she writes about simple tips for healthy & inspired living. Subscribe to her blog here.

9 Responses to Going Green For The Health of It
  1. Em
    July 15, 2008 | 10:03 am

    It really sounds wonderful – although as a child, I’m sure it wasn’t much fun sometimes! I wish I could get rid of our TV – my husband is just too attached to it! And I have to admit, my children love the backyardigans. Oh well… maybe someday!

  2. Beth (Coming Up For Air)
    July 15, 2008 | 10:04 am

    Oh my goodness. It’s like you are writing my own biography. We have so much in common! Everything you said is true. I believe many of the health issues with our society are nutritionally related. This is a wonderful post and I’m on the verge of writing a book here in the comment section. But I think you said it all beautifully and so I’ll end here! :)

  3. Aimie
    July 15, 2008 | 12:50 pm

    you are so right! I grew up on wheat germ and natural peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat bread too. When college hit I was the fast food junkie and now that I have munchkins it is all about the organic foods again. It really does make a difference.Love the blog!

  4. Blessed
    July 15, 2008 | 2:47 pm

    This is so true – so many of the things we can purchase in the grocery store that are not good for our health are also not good for the environment! Thanks for this timely reminder that one way to live green is to simply live a healthy lifestyle.

  5. Stephanie
    July 15, 2008 | 9:36 pm

    While I agree that nutrition is important, I’m still not convinced that organic food is better than conventional. I found this video on YouTube the other day on this subject, take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8n2HO81RtiA

  6. Aimie
    July 16, 2008 | 10:55 am

    Living in America we are all given the right to believe what we want. Personally I believe that feeding my kids food with poisons on them and in them is bad so I choose organic. I have children with food allergies and have done a bit more reserch than YouTube but that is because it is an important topic in our family. Please research more if nutrition is a passion for you and then see if you still feel that organic is not a better choice. It is not the only good choice. I personally feel that it is a enviormentally correct choice and better for my family.

  7. Arianne (To Think Is To Create)
    July 16, 2008 | 12:36 pm

    That YouTube video was made by the IFIC, who are notoriously biased.

    If nutrition is in fact important, we need to eat food with actual nutrients. Pesticide laden food that has been genetically modified to have almost no nutritional value, is not nutritious.

    I also go by how I feel. When I eat non-organic food I don’t feel good. When I eat organic food I feel fabulous. That’s not a coincidence.

  8. Sommer (Green and Clean Mom)
    July 16, 2008 | 1:26 pm

    Great post Monica and Arianne, I agree 100%. If I cook with mostly organic food my children fill up much faster. The snacks are more expensive but they eat less of them b/c most of them are filling. That’s a money saver right there.

    My childhood was nothing your childhood Monica but regardless, were focusing on being healthy and living more green now!

  9. Monica (Healthy Green Moms)
    July 16, 2008 | 2:59 pm

    Hi everyone, thanks for leaving your comments and joining in the discussion!

    Stephanie: Thanks for sharing your comments and the video, it has stirred up some discussion. I thought I would add that I think in the debate over organic vs conventional Arianne is a big point to consider the source of the information. 5 Minutes of doing research tells me this about the YouTube video:

    The president of the IFIC is David Schmidt, who has gained a thorough understanding of the food industry in previous sales positions with leading food and beverage firms, Oscar Mayer Foods, Pepsi-Cola USA and Canada Dry Corporation. The IFIC is supported by the following companies from the broad-based food, beverage and agricultural industry: to see companies go to link: http://www.cspinet.org/integrity/nonprofits/international_food_information_council_and_ific_foundation_.html

    Here’s my take: While we are caught up in the debate, major food decisions are being made by the companies on the list that directly affect the health of every family. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s just a fact of doing business and meeting the demands of shareholders. Look up the definition of a “corporation” to see what the primary motivation is. I do not see “producing healthy products” as a definition.

    Try an organic taste test. Taste tomatoes, strawberries, peas, spinach, cucumber etc from someones garden and then taste them imported at the store? There is no contest or debate. Most local organic food growers in my area have a “home grown” commitment to their farms. It is in their business plan to produce healthy crops and soil.

    Nutrition is only one aspect of this issue. I mentioned LOCALLY produced organic food because it is equally important to support a local regional food economy. The video touches on all the different classes of foods as “food management systems”. This is where I have reservations about most of the systems they mention (conventional, gmo etc) and their varied commitments to manage the land and soil.

    The immense demand placed on the largest agricultural companies is the reason we have these new “food management systems” because meeting the demand is just NOT sustainable. The recommendation to buy local organic does not only have health in mind, but also to support a more sustainable approach to our food system.

    In the end, I feel we need to block out the noise from companies competing to sell their products and just make a gut decision one way or another about what the simplest and healthiest way to feed our family.