Enter a food or ingredient for some seriously comprehensive nutritional info.
Before I put anything into my mouth in larger than normal quantities or when it’s an item not found in the grocery store, I check two sites to make sure it’s safe. WebMD has many herbs listed and will tell you of potential toxins as well as studies related to the herb. Some of those studies might actually be backing up the reason you’re taking the herb, which is always cool. Especially when the results of those studies give you an idea of dosage and time frame. It also lists drug interactions, or when an herb may interfere with prescriptions, either resulting in a medicine being ineffective or potentially dangerous side effects when the prescription and herb are combined. Example: St. John’s Wort + birth control pills = potential pregnancy. How’s that for a life altering side effect? Drugs.com does pretty much the same thing, but it’s good to have more than one source. It has some good articles sometimes as well.
Here’s an online herbal book. A Modern Herbal is a classic text that’s been converted into a webpage, which is awesome ’cause it’s searchable and has hyperlinks.
Plants For A Future will help you know of potential hazards, see ratings for edibility and medical use, get gardening tips, and find anything the plant is commonly used for. I use it as a reference on every web page I make, but don’t take it as a sole source of information (I’ve heard elsewhere that it might not be fully reliable). See it as a starting point for further study.
The Arbor Day Foundation will help you identify trees. Bonus, they’ll send you ten free trees for the cost of membership. One of these days I’ll own land, I hope to be able to purchase my trees (and grapes, berries, for it through them, so they can benefit from the profits. (Wait, they sell sustainable coffee? I didn’t see that before! It looks like a good discount to join the monthly club, omg I’m thrilled!) Anyway, check out the programs they do too.
The United States Department of Agriculture is a great resource to know about the plants in your area. There are maps showing the regions of the herbs, hardiness zones, and lists of herbs in your state. There are lists of endangered plants (that perhaps you may wish to encourage to grow in your area), plant descriptions talk about use by wildlife and legal classification. This is the kind of place to go when you’re planning a garden with native or non-invasive species in your area, or if you wish to do the wild gardening tending to nature kind of thing.
Wild Foods and Foraging
Green Deane’s Eat The Weeds is a gigantic resource that makes me happy by making it clear what lookalikes are to be found and how to avoid them, safe preparation methods, and a comprehensive source of information that responds to literature and common beliefs about nearly every wild food you can think of. He’s also got a YouTube channel so you can see the foraging in action. I check Green Deane’s tips on everything I forage.
Living a Sustainable Lifestyle
I’m far from reaching my goals. However, I have found some places that help inspire and motivate me.
Here’s some tips for reducing waste in your life.
I hate plastic. I struggle with removing it from my life, but so far it’s still probably my largest source of guilt. The reason why is because I love our oceans, and I know about the plastic soup. Okay, I also care about the pollution and high water usage during its creation, but now we even know that it matters about the fibers in our clothing as particles of plastic are getting into our waterways during the laundry. I use acrylic dishcloths that I made to use up some junk that a friend gave me when cleaning out their craft supplies, I thought I was figuring out a way to keep the plastic out of the trash, but now I might need to find something else to wash with. If it goes with laundry, I’m sure it goes with dishes.
MSGTruth.org has information on what MSG can do to the body. It’s run by someone who used to work in food science and was held to secrecy about her research, but since she is no longer in the field she can discuss the dangers of MSG and aspartame. There is also useful information on what to avoid, since labels don’t always have to state certain ingredients, or can cover them up with vague statements like “natural flavors”. Unfortunately, that list is pretty extensive. This kind of information is the kind of thing to know more about to be ready when someone asks “what’s so bad about processed food? The FDA says it’s safe.”
I don’t tend to have money to donate. I strangle my pennies for all they are worth. I do, however, volunteer when I can. I’m a certified literacy tutor through my public library, I’ve given some of my free time to homeless shelters and Make A Wish, and I try to find budget friendly ways to help other people’s causes. Not bragging, just a reminder that even if you are flat broke, there may be something you can do beyond clicking “like” on worthy pages, you may have time or other resources (such as items you no longer need that can be donated or sold to raise funds). Maybe you have a skill that can be put to use for someone else, just for a little while. Think about it.
By the way, a quick note about shopping to support charity. This is a good idea if you are already going to purchase an item anyway. If it’s something that you are wanting to buy just to support the cause, ditch the product and go give your money to the charity directly. If you are going to shop though, try going through Amazon Smile to donate to a cause of your choice.
FreeRice.com is a great way to spend a coffee break. Advertisers donate money per page view, so when you answer questions on vocabulary, humanities, geography, and more they donate a few grains of rice to ease world hunger. It takes a lot of clicks to fill a bowl, but your few grains in your spare time add up with other people’s grains, plus you’re keeping your brain active and healthy.
If you happen to be racking up hotel or frequent traveler miles that you don’t really have the chance to use, consider donating them to Make A Wish so that they can go to helping fulfill the wish of a child with a life-threatening illness. They have other ways to help as well, including a workplace program. If you’re going to shop through eBay anyway, use their portal. You might not find exactly what you need, but just in case it’s a good place to check.