Green For The Mainstream: I’m speaking at ShiftCon 2015!

Remember ShiftCon social media conference last year?! It was like a huge party of all the people who feel the same way I do about health, wellness, food purity, and low-toxin living. And I have mentioned before that I’ll be going again this year. In fact, I still have ticket discount codes, so if you are considering going, please contact me.

Another reason to attend: I’ll be speaking this year!

I am so excited to be co-hosting a panel with my friend Anne Brock from Flour Sack Mama and #CleanCouponing and Chef Dennis of Ask Chef Dennis and Good Morning Google+ fame! Our panel is called Green For The Mainstream and is based on our collective experience working with everyday people who are just starting out on this journey toward cleaner living — in food, beauty products, health, wellness, or cleaning products.

Below is the official summary from the ShiftCon web site, but first I have a question for you: what would YOU, as a consumer, want sustainable brands and companies to know about your journey? How could they help you and what do they do to alienate you that should be changed? Please feel free to tweet me your answer, leave a comment below, or message me on my Facebook page!

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Green For The Mainstream ShiftCon 2015 - I'm Speaking! | Living Consciously Blog

Mainstream America is at a crossroads, with chronic disease on the rise and an urgency to protect the planet like never before. Yet, the mainstream consumer is not necessarily ready to change old habits, even if health and home depend on it.

How do we make green truly work for the mainstream and get beyond trendy ideas to what works in the typical American household?

  • Where could you start on your own journey to live a greener lifestyle?
  • How do you, as a thought leader, respond when your audience is intimidated by change?
  • What resources could help you share?
  • How do you talk to your friends and neighbors about this sometimes touchy topic?
  • How could you bring the conversation to your social media spaces?

The Green for the Mainstream workshop will explore how social media outreach can gently transform old habits into new ones while respecting cultural traditions and limited household budgets. We will speak to the influential role of food in our everyday lives. This session will also cover strategies for reaching local communities with relevant messaging about better products and healthier lifestyles while avoiding elitism.

We will tackle the sometimes controversial topic of big brands entering the green/sustainable/organic market space and how that affects the mainstream consumer. Since many organic brands have been consumed by multinational brands, should you be concerned? We’ll cover some key details to look for when discerning quality products.

Whether you consider yourself light green and want to learn more about the ShiftCon movement without feeling overwhelmed, or whether you consider yourself a strong influencer who is looking for creative ways to reach the mainstream, this workshop is for you.

{excerpt from the ShiftCon web site, read entire description here}

Taking small bites: Ask Quaker to stop funding GMO Labeling opposition

What to elephants and GMO labeling efforts have in common? | Living Consciously Blog

Have you ever heard the old proverb about how you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

OK, so elephants are majestic and in some religions, even sacred, so we wouldn’t really eat an elephant. But you know what most of us probably do eat regularly? Oats. If you are someone who consumes grains, this is a major one. Quaker is a company that made it’s name known by selling oatmeal, something most Americans ate nearly every day a generation ago. Now that they are owned by Pepsico, they are one of the largest corporate influencers in politics. Many of us have actually moved away from their oats since they do not currently have a gluten-free version. As a company, Quaker has also moved on to many other products like cereal bars, sugary snacks, and processed foods with little to no nutritional value. Away from where most of us reading this blog are probably headed.

The fact is, Quaker/Pepsico has significant political and monetary influence in the U.S. And right now, they are using that influence to fund anti-labeling effort for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organizations like Just Label It are working to convince our lawmakers to give every American the right to know what is in their food, while companies like Quaker/Pepsico are throwing a huge amount of resources toward keeping us in the DARK — read more about the DARK Act currently being debated by our legislators here. It’s intimidating how much more funding is on the anti-labeling side of this fight. It’s such a large disparity that it’s easy to get discouraged. What can we do as individuals? We don’t have millions of dollars to make our voices heard!

Back to the elephant. What we can do is work hard to convince corporations to stop funding the anti-labeling legislation. Maybe we can’t convince every corporate entity. But we can approach one corporation at a time with an ask, and we can keep asking until they respond.

The facts: The vast majority of Americans (92 percent) support mandatory GMO labeling and want to know what’s in their food according to a recent Consumer Reports national survey.

We want large food companies to stop blocking our right to know through the DARK Act or other anti-mandatory labeling initiatives. We also want to call upon Congress and the FDA to institute mandatory GMO labeling.

How: Go to www.JustLabelIt.org to ask Quaker to:

1) Publicly support mandatory FDA labeling of GMOs

2) Stop funding anti-mandatory labeling efforts

3) Stand up against the DARK Act

The Vision: Working together, we will hold food companies accountable for refusing to support mandatory FDA labeling of GMOs, expose their contributions to anti-mandatory labeling efforts, and show overwhelming support for mandatory labeling. Consumers will know that GMOs have dramatically increased the use of probably carcinogenic herbicides and will be able to choose foods with all the information they deserve.

On the positive side: to support companies that are actively contributing money from their bottom line to promote GMO labeling, buy from this list.

Will you join us?

 

#ShiftHappens: Join me at ShiftCon in LA this year!

ShiftCon Social Media Conference - Join me in 2015! Discount codes | Living Consciously Blog

Despite how totally awesome I am sure I make it look, it isn’t easy being green.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t know what was done to the ingredients in our food. Sometimes I wish I didn’t mentally envision the end-of-life (landfill, never biodegrading) of those not-really-disposable plastic products that everyone else seems to be able to use without thinking twice. Or I think how convenient it would be to buy makeup at the drug store without thinking about how I’m absorbing phthalates (endocrine disruptors) through my pores.

It’s times like those that I feel a little crazy. And sometimes a little alone.

But in October of last year, I had an amazing weekend that helped me realize that I am NOT alone. Not only am I not alone, but those of us who are (fortunately or unfortunately) armed with too much information about the toxins and waste in our world don’t have to just sit around and worry about it. Together, we can affect change. We can work with big brands and companies to change the way products are made. We can petition Congress and talk to our representatives about legislation that will protect the purity of our food.

Every time I make my own hand soap or bread or buy alternative products without nasty additives, GMOs, or artificial colors, I am sending a message to the corporations that I am NOT purchasing from. I admit that I get tired of all the DIY and due diligence sometimes. I want it to be easy and fast. So I’m excited to support companies that produce convenience that is responsible, safe, and uses only whole ingredients.

What if all of us who feel this way got together in one place? What if we invited the brands who agree with us to join the conversation? What if we talked about why we want change, what change we want, and helped each other get stronger and more relevant in the movement to shift the paradigm?

We can! It’s called ShiftCon Social Media conference!

Blogger or social media influencer, brand or company: no matter where you are on your journey to a greener, cleaner, healthier lifestyle, I would encourage you to attend ShiftCon social media conference this fall September 26-27 in Los Angeles, California. I am already signed up! If you are considering signing up, I have some great ways for you to save on registration.

1.  This week through March 23, registration is $100 off! Please follow the link and read more about the discount.

2. If you’re reading this after March 23, I still have a $50 off coupon code for you, as my friend! Yep, reading my blog finally pays off. $50 for you, just contact me directly at jenny{at}living-consciously{dot}com for the code.

I hope to see you there!

 NOTE: I am now an affiliate seller of tickets to ShiftCon. If you buy tickets using this link, I get $20 even after your $50 off! Let’s help each other out!

Don’t Deny Americans the Right to Know – defeat the DARK Act

Stop the DARK Act - HR 4432 will prevent GMO labeling at the Federal level effectively killing all GMO Labeling efforts in the states. Take action today! | Living Consciously Blog

If I told you that there is actually bill in the U.S. Senate right now designed to prevent us from knowing what is in the food we eat, would you believe me? Or would you say this is some kind of crazy scare tactic, and that it could never happen in the USA?

Unfortunately, this is happening. It’s an example of just how much money Big Agriculture have invested that they were able to lobby our Senators to even propose such a bill and bring it to a vote. Here are the portions of H.R. 4432 that I find most concerning:

Preempts any state or local requirement respecting a bioengineered organism intended for a food use or application, or food produced from, containing, or consisting of a bioengineered organism.

Sets forth standards for any food label that contains claims that bioengineering was or was not used in the production of the food. Preempts any state and local labeling requirements with respect to bioengineered food.

Requires the Secretary to issue regulations setting standards for a natural claim on food labels. Preempts any state or local regulations that are not identical to the requirements of this Act.

Per the bold text (my emphasis) above, not only will this legislation prevent genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from being labeled in the U.S, but it will also automatically invalidate any mandatory labeling laws that have already been passed in individual states. H.R. 4432 has been nicknamed “The DARK Act” – Denying Americans the Right to Know what is in our food. As of the publication of this post, more than 70 initiatives to label GMOs have been introduced in over 30 states (source). Clearly, Americans want to know what is in our food. I know I do!

And it’s not an unrealistic request — foods that are manufactured by major food brands here in the U.S. are already exported to Europe with slightly different labeling to meet the GMO labeling requirements in other countries. See picture proof of different labels for the same products manufactured in the same American factories in this post. So the objection that GMO labeling will be “cost prohibitive” is false because major brands are already labeling their products for sale in Europe. They actually spend more money producing dual labeling now than they would if they labeled the products the same way in all countries.

We need to come together to speak out against this legislation.

If you’ve followed me long, you know that I rarely ask you to take advocacy action. There are so many important ways to be involved that it’s often difficult to take a stand on just one. So I save my social media and blogging influence for when it really matters. I believe that this really matters and that now is the time to act.

2 ways you can help

1. Sign the petition hosted by JustLabelIt.org. There is a handy option on the site where you can provide your address and automatically generate an email to your Senator(s). I did this from my iPhone in less than 5 minutes. [NOTE: In Texas, you will be asked to specify the topic of your email in a form – choose “Agriculture”]

2. Call your Senator personally. Our advocacy experts tell us that calling a Senator’s office personally holds so much more weight than a petition or even an email. Staffers take detailed notes of each call, so be polite and brief, but be honest and firm. Tell them why you care. They need to know we are serious! Use WhoIsMyRepresentative.com to find their phone number. I will update this post with a link to talking points when I have it. Until then, be authentic. Speak from the heart.

BONUS: Share on social media.
Facebook: follow and Share posts by JustLabelIt.org and Mamavation
Twitter: follow and retweet posts by JustLabelIt.org, Mamavation, and myself. @ your Senator, if you can!

Use the following hashtags: #StoptheDARKAct #WeekofAction

If you join me, please let me know! Join my Facebook group to discuss it or tweet at me! Thanks for sharing!

Saving money on organic non-GMO groceries

After a full year of saying we’re going to sit down and go over our budget, my husband and I finally did it. We used to be such superstars about our budget when we were first married, but it’s yet another area that has slipped since we had children. We have so very little time without the kids that it seems like a waste to spend it on budgeting (see what I did there?). Still, we did it, and we survived. The aftermath has left me with the task of saving money on organic non-GMO groceries.

We’ve been eating organic produce when it comes to The Dirty Dozen for many years; that has not changed and will not change. But ever since I attended Shiftcon in October, I’ve been making a more concentrated effort to avoid genetically modified organisms in our food. I have learned so much about what’s happening to our bodies, our health, and our children as a result of GMO’s in the past few years that it’s difficult for me to “unknow” all of these things and go back to allowing these untested organisms back into our food supply. I feel terrible about choosing cheap over safe now. I hate that it has to be a choice, but I know that if I keep “voting with my dollars”, eventually the companies will start listening.

I reached out to some wonderful clean eating anti-GMO bloggers that I know asking for their best tips on saving money while eating clean. I have compiled the best advice I received and hope to implement. Some of these things I already have in place and have already tested out for you! PLEASE NOTE: There are affiliate links in this list, meaning I am an affiliate of some of the online stores, so if you order from them I will get a few cents. Thank you!

Saving Money on Organic NonGMO Groceries | Living Consciously Blog

Saving money on organic non-GMO groceries

1. Buy supplements, specialty (gluten-free, vegan, Paleo, non-GMO) snacks, and pantry staples from online retailers.

A list of retailers that may be cheaper in some cases than Whole Foods, Sprouts, or even Natural Grocer include:

Vitacost (affiliate link)
Thrive Market (affiliate link)
Abe’s Market (affiliate link)
iHerb (recommended by Lindsay Dahl)

I have found that crackers, flours, bulk herbs and grains, bath and body products, dental products, and organic feminine hygiene products are cheaper on these sites than at physical stores. Tip: order with a friend so that your order is large enough to qualify for free shipping (usually $50).

2. Garden: grow your own organic produce and herbs

This would work better if I did not constantly kill everything that I attempt to grow, but I just keep trying! The most valuable thing for me to grow would be herbs, again if I did not constantly kill them. I spend $3-$4 per week on fresh cilantro, parsley or sage. If I could somehow stop killing the herbs in my garden, that would save me $156 per year, minimum. Related: has anyone ever tried the Aerogarden (affiliate link) for this? I have been thinking of ordering one for years to try to stop the constant herb death over here.

3. Meal Planning

I am literally unable to do this inside my own brain, so I pay someone to do it for me. I love buying meal planning and having someone else tell me how to cook and what to cook. Meal planning makes certain that you don’t buy what you won’t eat in a given week. No waste! Clean eating plans that I love:

Real Plans (affiliate link)
The Fresh 20
eMeals (choose the Clean Eating, Vegetarian or Paleo plan)

4. Use the freezer

Maybe 2015 will be the year we get an electrician out to install outlets in the garage for a deep freeze. If you have freezer space, you can buy in bulk and freeze. Things to freeze: organic fruits, organic vegetables (from your garden!), grass fed meat, large batches of soup, large batches of baked goods like muffins, pancakes, and waffles, leftover smoothies and bulk cooked beans (cheaper & safer than buying canned). You can also buy frozen organic produce more cheaply than fresh.

5. Shop smarter

I’ve saved a lot over the years by knowing where each item is the cheapest. For example, conventional marshmallows have high fructose corn syrup AND blue dye (linked to attention issues and hyperactivity in children, actually required to carry a warning label in the UK, largely phased out over there). So I buy organic marshmallows, but there’s a difference in cost depending on where you buy…

Whole Foods: $4.69 per package
Natural Grocer: $4.29 per package
Thrive Market: under $4 per package

Per my blogger friends across the nation, try to find these local chains near you:

Grocery Outlet
Costco (carries a TON of organic and GMO-free items)
Natural Grocer (by Vitamin Cottage, under that name in some areas)

For more ways to shop smarter, check on these posts Organic on the Cheap, Real Food Money Saving Tips, Using Amazon Subscribe & Save makes Real Food Affordable and Real Food Grocery Budget.

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I hope some of these tips help all of us! Here’s to a thrifty 2015, and please feel free to post YOUR money saving tips for organic, non-GMO groceries in the comments!