Wholegrain goodness

Bread, pasta, rice – most of us love them. Then sometimes we are told they are the reason for getting fat, then we put them behind the red light and exclude them fully from our menu. Well, we shouldn`t, because they are very healthy and our body needs them.

But the ones I am talking about are the wholegrain ones. What does it mean exactly? It means that the bread, the pasta, or the rice contains every part of the grain, including the bran, which is the outer layer of the grain and the germ, which is inside the seed, it is in fact the embryo of the seed. These are removed when making white bread, pasta and rice, and used for other purposes. The bran is used mainly for animal feeding, and both the bran and the germ can be used for many other purposes, for example for making vegetable oil.

The sad truth is that these removed parts are the healthy parts of the grain and contain all the benefits, vitamins and minerals. When we eat white bread, white pasta, white rice, we eat just `empty` food, making no good for our body.

OK, but why they do it? Why they remove these parts? The answer is above. Let`s just think about it. Imagine one single wheat grain. You mill it, and sell it as one product (bread for example). Or if you want to make the most of it, you take the bran off, feed the pig, which can also be sold later as meat, and take the germ off making oil, which is another product for selling. If you are a businessman who wants only money, of course will do this. One grain used in three different ways! Who cares about health? Well, yes, we should care about our health not letting others fool us.

Let me tell you my favourite example for the miracle wholegrains can make. Mikkel Hindhede was a danish physician and nutritionist. He studied the minimum protein need and the minimum nutrition need for humans. The most important thing for us now is that he was food advisor to the Danish government during World War I. As you know, famine was widespread in Europe in 1918. His plan was voted unanimously. Humans or pigs – one of them will die from hunger – he said. They sold 80 % of the pigs to England and Germany, they decreased significantly the production of alcohol, all these steps to make sure that grains and potato can be kept for feeding people. It was him who introduced the whole grain bread, and people got used to it. He also promoted fruit and vegetable growing. There was no famine in Denmark, there was no panic among people, and most importantly the flu epidemic which was widespread in Europe and killed in 1918 more people than the World War, did not increase the death rate in Denmark, in fact it was the lowest number ever. It was the only country among the neighbouring countries whose citizens were not affected by the flu epidemic. For me it sounds like an unbelieveble story. But these are facts, this miracle really happened.

Well, the taste is the same wheather you eat a whole grain pasta or white pasta, and the same applies for the rice. Wholegrain is a bit chewy, but you will like it, I am sure. It is a big difference though when eating wholegrain bread, I can say that it is much much tastier. It is not that difficult to buy wholegrain pasta or rice in a regular store. So next time you go for shopping for your dinner, choose the wholegrain one and give it a try. You will never go back to the white ones, I promise. And you will feel the benefits: healthier skin, hair, nails, because of the vitamin E it contains, more energy because of the many types of vitamin B, stronger immune system because of the antioxidants they contain and many many more. You`ll see, and you`ll feel! To buy a whole grain bread is not that easy though. There are some options in stores, but if you check the label, you will find a very long ingredient list, many things which have nothing to do with a bread: additives, flavours, enhancers, etc. I am not talking about healthy seeds of course, they are welcome anytime in any bread. So if you really care for yourself, you buy a breadmaker. It is cheap, and it is not a bother to make a bread. All you need is a scale, and 10 minutes, then the breadmaker does the job. Ah, and 1 minute to clean it afterwards. It`s so easy! :)

So Girls and Guys, wholegrain – whole health!

Antique dresser – found!

I finally found the key furniture piece I was searching for to accent my loft’s style! I am love with it and cannot wait to see it in there. I feel like it perfectly represents the classic vintage/contemporary style that I am going for. In terms of minimalist design, it definitely isn’t streamline but with such few pieces of furniture within my home, this is going to my character piece that ties everything together. Can’t wait to see it in person in a couple weeks!

Factoring in the True Cost of Energy

With the global recession currently gripping us, there’s a constriction of available funds to invest in clean technology. While governments are spurring an unprecedented level of interest and investment in cleaner energy, there’s also a growing backlash that questions whether now is the time to make these investments. If we simply look at energy costs traditionally, then this expense can easily be questioned. But the enlightened view, in this era of global change, factors in the connections between energy and environment.

In order to look at energy from a sustainability perspective, it’s important to factor in the social and environmental impacts of our energy decisions, in addition to their economic benefits — the so-called “triple bottom line”. Environmentalists have long complained that the true cost of energy aren’t being calculated, because the costs of environmental damage are typically absorbed at a later date by the people rather than providers. The health consequences of our energy choices are also becoming more apparent, particularly in the United States where health costs are on par with energy costs in terms of their ability to disrupt our economy.

Environmental Costs

Damages to the environment are traditionally ignored on our balance sheets, because they don’t represent an immediate expenditure. However, if we look at the long term accumulating impacts, and the cost to clean up our environment, these costs over time are significant. There’s a tangible cost to cleaning up soil and water pollution, but some of the other costs are harder to quantify.

It’s difficult to calculate the loss of productive forests and fisheries, but the long-term harm when these resources go away can be devastating. There are certainly tangible economic values of the resources, and there’s also a value to the jobs and economies that revolve around sustainable resources. Fisheries in New England, the Chesapeake Bay and now in the Pacific Northwest provide the starkest reminder of our reliance on an abundant and sustainable natural resource, for many towns have shriveled up when the resource is no longer available.

The growing threat of climate change could provide an overwhelming connection regarding the delicate balance between energy, environment and economy. The threat of sea level rise is perhaps the greatest danger, with much of the coastline of the world potentially under water should our ice caps continue to melt at a rapid pace.

Health Costs

There is growing evidence that the health care costs of energy are on the rise. Fossil fuels are responsible for air pollution and a rise in respiratory problems. Oil spills have an immediate impact on wildlife and can have long-term impacts on our soil and drinking water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just made a strong proclamation when they recently declared that fossil fuel emissions are a public health threat.

The direct connection between fossil fuels and climate were part of this declaration, with effects on health said to include more droughts, more extreme and more frequent heat waves, more intense storms, rising sea levels and harm to water resources, agriculture, and plants and animals in the wild. The EPA noted that the very young, the elderly and those in poor health could stand to suffer the most harm.

Security Costs

Protecting our nation’s access to fuel supplies in the politically unstable Middle East has the U.S. currently involved in two simultaneous costly wars. The U.S. sends hundreds of millions of dollars each day to the Middle East due to dependence on foreign oil, and that adds up to more than a $100 billion each year. These dollars are going to the OPEC countries that are largely dictatorships that are politically hostile to us.

The American military understands this direct connection between fossil fuel dependence and security. Not only does the American economy depend on exporters with potentially unstable governments, but the U.S. military is highly dependent on oil for their operations. In fact, the pU.S. military is the world’s largest single consumer of oil.

Given this dependence, many branches of the military are exploring and investing in renewable energy to power their bases. The movement of oil during a conflict is one of the military’s most vulnerable supply chain issues, so there’s also research underway to look into biofuels and other means of generating a secure and locally produced fuel source.

A cleaner and cheaper future presents itself when we look toward the development of renewable energy that is produced close to where it is consumed. Solar, hydro, wind, geothermal and biomass each provide viable alternatives to fossil fuel energy sources, and they largely come without environmental, health or security costs. It’s refreshing to see a growing new energy movement underway, and let’s be clear about the costs of the alternatives, so that we can achieve a new energy economy as quickly as possible.