Thursday, September 30, 2010

Training Tips Thursday - Yoga for Cyclists

I keep finding more articles recommending yoga poses to enhance different physical activities.  Last week's feature was based on an article about yoga for runners.  Hmm... maybe there's something to this... maybe yoga is good for all athletes!  What a concept...

This article in VeloNews, the Journal for Competitive Cycling at lists the following yoga poses as good for cyclists:

Standing Bow
*Increases circulation to the heart and lung
*Improves elasticity of the spine
*Creates union of strength and balance
*Activates digestive system

Spine Twist
*Improves flexibility of the spine and hip joints, relieves back pain, and helps prevent slipped discs
*Good for kyphosis, scoliosis, cervical spondylosis, and arthritis
*Increases circulation to the spinal nerves, veins, and tissues
*Calms the nervous system

*Good for digestion, kyphosis, scoliosis, low back pain, low blood pressure, spondylo-arthritis of lumbar spine
*Increases spine strength especially in the lower spine

Fixed Firm
*Increases circulation to the lower limbs
*Strengthens and improves the flexibility of the lower spine, hips, knees, and ankle joints
*Good for lower back pain, helps prevent hernia
*Strengthens Psoas muscles

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Green Choices Wednesday - More Vegetarian Adventures

As I find additional vegetarian recipes that are exceptionally delicious, I'll try to feature them in Running Green as part of either my Meatless Monday or Green Choices features.  Since about 18% of greenhouse gas releases come from meat production, either adopting a vegetarian diet or simply preparing an individual meatless meal are choices that help the environment. 

Before we recycle our magazines, my wife goes through some of them to see if there are any recipes she wants to save.  In a March issue of Better Homes and Gardens, she found this recipe for "Nutty Meatless Loaf."  We thought it sounded good, and would try it sometime.  Last Thursday, I came home from work to find a delicious aroma filling the house.  We loved it!  It would probably be good enough plain, or with another favorite topping, but we thought the mango chutney added something special to it.

Here's the recipe.  I searched and found the electronic version at:

Nutty Meatless Loaf
1-1/4 cups dry red or yellow lentils
2 medium carrots, shredded
3/4 cup snipped dried apricots and/or golden raisins
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1-1/2 tsp. garam masala or 2 tsp. Jamaican jerk seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups cooked brown rice
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup mango chutney
1/4 cup chopped red sweet pepper
1/4 cup chopped peeled fresh mango
Cilantro leaves (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In medium saucepan bring 3 cups water and lentils to boiling; reduce heat. Cover; simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain; set aside.
2. In 10-inch skillet cook carrots, apricots, onion, celery, garam masala, and garlic in hot oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
3. In large bowl combine eggs, cooked lentils, carrot mixture, brown rice, 2/3 cup of the nuts, half the chutney, and 1 tsp. salt.
4. Firmly press lentil mixture into a greased 9- or 9-1/2-inch deep-dish pie plate. Bake, uncovered, 25 minutes. In small bowl combine remaining chutney with sweet pepper, mango, and remaining nuts.
5. Evenly spoon chutney mixture on loaf. Bake 10 minutes more or until chutney mixture is heated through (loaf should read 160 degrees F). Sprinkle with cilantro leaves. Let stand 15 minutes; cut in wedges to serve. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition Facts
Calories367, Total Fat (g)12, Cholesterol (mg)79, Sodium (mg)496, Carbohydrate (g)53, Fiber (g)13, Protein (g)14, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday Quote of the Week

"Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty."

~Albert Einstein

Monday, September 27, 2010

Meatless Monday

Running Green supports Meatless Monday, an initiative associated with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The goal of Meatless Monday is to help reduce meat consumption in order to improve public health and the health of the planet.
These delicious-looking recipes are published by the Meatless Monday initiative, and may be found at

Monday Morsels (Source:
Nobel Laureate Lee Yuan-tseh celebrates the one-year anniversary of Meat-free Monday Taiwan by imploring us to cut back one day a week… Foodie newsletter The Tasting Table thanks expert chefs for spreading the word about MM… The Franciscan Center of Baltimore now offers a community Healthy Monday meal program… Fry’s Vegetarian in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa asks eaters to make Monday meatless… The International School Bangkok now offers MM meals and 400 students have pledged to go meat free every week.

Several days ago we tried a great new vegetarian dish, a "meatless loaf" made with lentils and rice.  It was delicious.  My wife found the recipe in a magazine, and I'll try to find an online version and publish it in Wednesday's "Green Choices" post!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weekly Training: September 20 - September 26

Graphic from my page at Graphic includes running and cycling miles.

I eased up slightly this week, running 40 miles, down from 50 the week before.  In preparation for next Saturday's 25K trail run, I want to continue to taper the distance and intensity slighty and get extra recovery time.

Runs were 8, 10, and 4 miles Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 8 and 10 miles Saturday and Sunday. My cycling miles are still way down, with only 4 miles Saturday. 

Additionally, after resting a sore shoulder for a month, I finally got back on track with my weights program, cautiously working Chest/Biceps Monday, Shoulders/Legs Wednesday, and Back/Triceps Friday.  I'm a total believer in a holistic approach to fitness.  To that end, I try to challenge the entire body by adding weights routines to target different muscle groups, core strengthening exercises, and by cross training on the bicycle.  Yoga is the final piece in the puzzle, pulliing everything else together and providing physical and mental balance.  

Following my personal daily yoga challenge, I continued my practice with at least a short session each day, and my daily yoga streak is still going-- 30 days!

A friend on dailymile left a nice comment following my description of yesterday's 10-miler, that I am "a very spiritual runner."  Thanks, Stephanie!  I've long felt a somewhat zen-like quality to running.  There's something about the rhythm of breathing and footsteps, coupled with the mental focus, that seems to enhance mind-body connection, sort of a "moving meditation."  I feel that increased recent yoga practice has enhanced that connection.

YTD: 1,361.5 miles running, 440.3 miles cycling, 1,801.8 miles total.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Food Rules Friday

Michael Pollan is an acclaimed author and whole food/heathy eating advocate. He is the author of the best selling "In Defense of Food" and "The Omnivore's Dillemma."

Rule #18: "Don't ingest foods made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Training Tip Thursday - Yoga for Runners

Yoga - The 10 Best Poses for Runners

Lately, I've been devoting more time and energy to my yoga practice.  I've found that yoga adds balance to both my running and to my life.  As a runner, I've been particularly impressed with the power of targeted lower-body stretches to facilitate post-run recovery.  These stretches may be found in earlier posts.

I recently came across an article on, "The 10 Best Poses for Runners."  According to Montreal-based personal trainer, yoga and ChiRunning instructor Hyongok Cho Kent, the best poses are:
  1. Wall Dog
  2. Hamstring Stretch
  3. Wide Leg Standing Forward Bend
  4. Wide Leg Standing Forward Bend with Twist
  5. Lunge
  6. Front Thigh Stretch (pictured above)
  7. Bound Angle Pose
  8. Diamond Pose with Toes Tucked Under
  9. Diamond Pose with Cow-Face Pose Arms
  10. Full Body Relaxation with Conscious Breathing
The full article, including a slideshow with photos of each pose, is at:


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Green Choices Wednesday - More Homemade Stuff!

We're making homemade yogurt! 

Any food product made at home from fresh ingredients is more enviromentally friendly than it's factory-made counterpart.  Just think of the resources required to operate and maintain a huge factory!  Homemade yogurt requires a very small amount of energy to produce.  It goes into our own reusable containers and doesn't generate plastic waste.  Yes, plastic is recyclable, but in many areas it's difficult or impossible to recycle anything except #1 and #2 plastic.  Manufactured yogurt packaging is typically #5.

In additon to being "greener," there are other advantages.  We have total control of all ingredients, and know there are no additives or chemicals added.  All that's required is fresh milk and yogurt culture, a thermometer, and heating equipment.  We can make a low-fat or no-fat variety just by using 2% or skim milk.  We used skim.  Yogurt culture is available as a dry powder, or any good yogurt with active culture can be used to get the first batch going.  I find the homemade product to be a higher quality, better tasting product, and it is also much less expensive!  Milk is converted to yogurt at a 1:1 ratio.  Think how much cheaper a pint of milk is than a pint of yogurt!

There are lots of yogurt recipes available on the internet.  The process involves heating milk to about 185 °F, letting it cool to 110 °F, adding the culture, and keeping the mixture warm for a few hours while the culture reproduces, thickening the yogurt.  Then it is ready to put into reusable containers and refrigerate.  We like to  flavor it by stirring in fresh fruit or a little homemade jelly or jam just before serving!

It's a common practice to use a double boiler, or a smaller pot inside a larger pot, to heat the milk.  We just carefully heated it in a single small pot, using a low heat setting.  After adding the culture, the mixture may be kept warm by covering with a heating pad.  Some people use a very minimal "low" setting on a crock pot.  One can find special equipment for yogurt making, or just use these common items.  We make small batches and have a small electric yogurt warmer that the yogurt cups fit into.

So, it's really easy, less expensive, better-tasting, healthier, and environmentally friendlier!  What's not to like?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Quote of the Week

"Yoga is not the search for something, as though something is missing. Yoga is the celebration of life as it is freely given."

~Mark Whitwell

Monday, September 20, 2010

Meatless Monday

Running Green supports Meatless Monday, an initiative associated with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The goal of Meatless Monday is to help reduce meat consumption in order to improve public health and the health of the planet.

These delicious-looking recipes are published by the Meatless Monday initiative, and may be found at

Monday Morsels (Source:
The Chicago Tribune looks at how MM marketing translates into better health… My South End calls MM an exiting food trend that restaurateurs can feel good about…Denver Westword announces MM at ‘The Kitchen Table’ cooking school in Colorado… recommends MM as “a happy medium between being a vegetarian and a carnivore…The Earthly Report looks at the history behind the movement, calling MM a sound idea for health and the planet.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Weekly Training: September 13 - September 19

Graphic from my page at

This was my first 50-mile running week since just before marathon taper in April! I ran slightly lighter mileage through most of the summer, and after struggling badly on a routine 10 last Sunday, I decided I needed to work myself back into a stronger schedule.  

So, last week I focused on the basics; nothing fancy, just slugging out the distance. Runs were 8, 10, and 8 miles Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 10 and 14 miles Saturday and Sunday.  Total miles were down just a little because I didn't log any cross training miles on the bicycle.

I continued to practice yoga at least a few minutes each day, and my daily yoga streak is still alive at 23 days!

 YTD: 1,321.5 miles running, 436.3 miles cycling, 1,757.8 miles total.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Food Rules Friday

Michael Pollan is an acclaimed author and whole food/heathy eating advocate. He is the author of the best selling "In Defense of Food" and "The Omnivore's Dillemma."

Rule #17: "Eat only foods that have been cooked by humans."

In general, humans cook with healthier ingredients than corporations do.  Pollan calls his next rules, 18 through 21, "useful variants of the human-cooked-food rule."  Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Training Tip & Personal Yoga Challenge Update

Training Tip of the Week:
Two weeks ago, I posted an 18-minute yoga video with some great hip-opening lunges that I found enhance post-run recovery, greatly reducing tightness in the legs and hips.  My morning schedule is pretty busy, especially if I try to squeeze in a couple extra miles.  The routine in today's video is also very effective, and it only takes 11 minutes!

Personal Yoga Challenge - Mid-September Update:
I challenged myself to develop yoga into a daily habit with at least a short yoga practice each day during the month of September (National Yoga Month).  I posted this on September 8, to help hold myself accountable, and briefly updated in my September 12 weekly training summary.  As of today, the month is still intact and the streak is alive at 20 days, going back to August 28. Looking good!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Green Choices Wednesday - Using Your Local Library

Just a simple choice to note today.

Yesterday, I went to our local library branch (only one mile from the house, close enough to run to!), and picked up a library card.  Most environmentally aware people realize that it's greener to read books from the library instead of buying them.  We read most books once, and then they adorn our bookshelves for eternity.  Library books are reused over and over.  There are a few books that are special to us, and we want to re-read them, periodically or even frequently.  Other books may have a smaller readership demand, and the library may not carry them.  Those are  good reasons to buy books.  So, when there's a book I want to read, I'll check the library first. 

I had intended to get a library card since I moved to a different city near the end of last year, but put it off.  This week I read a book review on Callah's "My Yoga Life" blog: my yoga life: The World We Have (a book review), and the book contains an "Earth Peace Treaty" at the end of the book. It's basically a list of possible Earth-friendly activities to which one may choose to commit.  I like lists like this, because I get ideas from them.  Sometimes they are new ideas, and sometimes serve more as reminders that I may want to adopt an activity I'd been considering.  One item on the list was "Use library instead of buying books, as much as possible."  In this case, the list helped to motivate me to overcome my tendency to procrastinate.

My next challenge: develop a plan to overcome procrastination.  Maybe I'll do that tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday Quote of the Week

"Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one's being, from bodily health to self realization. Yoga means union - the union of body with consciousness and consciousness with the soul. Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day to day life and endows skill in the performance of one's actions."

~B.K.S. Iyengar

Monday, September 13, 2010

Meatless Monday

Running Green supports Meatless Monday, an initiative associated with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The goal of Meatless Monday is to help reduce meat consumption in order to improve public health and the health of the planet.

These delicious-looking recipes are published by the Meatless Monday initiative, and may be found at

Monday Morsels (Source:
Women’s Health online goes meatless on Monday with recipes the whole family will enjoy… Tal Ronnen (the chef behind Oprah’s 21-day vegan cleanse) explains that MM can be healthy and hearty… Los Angeles’ 94.7 The Wave encourages listeners to try one of their protein-packed MM dishes… Award winning chef Marcus Samuelsson now hosts a MM recipe on his website each week… Harvard nutritionist Samantha Heller touts the benefits of MM on The Latino Christian News Network.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Weekly Training: September 6 - September 12

Graphic from my page at The mileage in the graphic includes both running and cycling miles.)

A second week of moderate mileage, following two heavier weeks, 35 running miles, 17 cycling miles, 52 miles total.  Short runs were 5, 6, and 4 miles Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; long runs were 10 miles each on Saturday and Sunday.  I cycled 7 miles Thursday, and 10 miles Sunday.

Although gradually improving, I still have some soreness in my left shoulder, so I continued to skip training with weights.  My yoga practice went well-- I managed to practice at least a little each day, and almost 5 hours for the week.

YTD: 1,271.5 miles running, 436.3 miles cycling, 1,707.8 miles total.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Vegetarian Adventures

Every week, I support Meatless Monday by linking to the recipes of the week that are posted on the Meatless Monday website.  Taste is totally subjective, but most of the recipes look pretty good to me.  The way it works out, I actually try some of the recipes, and do not either decide to or get around to trying others.

Tonight we prepared these Lentil Burgers (pictured above) featured in the Monday, September 6 Meatless Monday post.  I thought that this recipe looked especially good, and after trying it, my wife and I both thought it was delicious!  As good as I thought the recipe looked, it exceeded my best expectations.  Pure awesomeness!
So, in addition to the links I posted Monday, I'll post this entire recipe:

Lentil Burgers

Brown lentils are spiced with red chili and thyme, topped with alfalfa sprouts and served on a poppy seed bun. These burgers are great on the grill and so hearty even the most devout carnivores will be singing the praises of the mighty lentil. This recipe comes to us from Trudy of veggie.num.num.

Serves 8

For the lentil burger patties:
1½ cups brown lentils, rinsed and picked through
6 cups low sodium vegetable stock
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 red chili, diced
¼ red onion, diced
5 sprigs fresh thyme, roughly chopped
2 slices wholegrain bread, roughly diced
1 ½ cups freshly made breadcrumbs
salt and pepper, to taste
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1-2 tablespoons wholegrain flour

To complete the lentil burgers:
a little vegetable oil or cooking spray, to prepare the grill pan
8 slice of your favorite burger cheese*
8 tablespoons relish
8 sweet sandwich pickles
4 ounces baby lettuce
4 ounces alfalfa sprouts
1 avocado*, cut into slices
8 poppy seed buns, toasted

* Optional.

To make the lentil burger patties:
Place the lentils in a large saucepan with the stock and smashed garlic. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Drain off any excess liquid and set aside to cool.
Combine the chili, red onion, thyme and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Add the cooked lentils and stir to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the whisked eggs to the burger mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined, adding enough flour to bring the mixture together.
Form the mixture into large patties with your hands.

To complete the lentil burgers:
Prepare a large frying pan or Barbeque grill pan with a light coating of vegetable oil or cooking spray. Try using a sheet of lightly oiled tin foil on the grill if you don’t have a grill pan.
Cook the lentil burger patties on the prepared pan for 4-5 minutes, flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes on the other side, or until both sides are golden and cooked through.
If using cheese, top the cooked burger patty with 1 slice of cheese and place under a medium grill or broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
Build your burger by spreading the bun with relish topping with a patty, then pickles, lettuce, alfalfa sprouts and avocado, if using. Close the burger with the top bun and repeat the process with the remaining burgers.

This recipe contains both egg and cheese, so it's vegetarian, and not vegan.  We used our own homemade vegetable stock instead of canned or packaged stock.  The recipe listed avocado and cheese as optional, and we used both.  The type of cheese is not specified, and we used Swiss.  I think it may be even better with Monterrey Jack or Pepper Jack, but we didn't have any this time.  The only thing we changed was using whole wheat buns instead of poppy seed buns.  We will definitely have this again!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Food Rules Friday

Michael Pollan is an acclaimed author and whole food/heathy eating advocate. He is the author of the best selling "In Defense of Food" and "The Omnivore's Dillemma."

Rule #16: "Buy your snacks at the farmers' market."
"You'll find yourself snacking on fresh or dried fruits and nuts-- real food-- rather than chips and sweets."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Texas Flood

To my Texas friends and neighbors, I hope you were spared any hardship from the winds and rains of tropical storm Hermine; just a little message from a legendary Texas bluesman, our great departed Stevie Ray Vaughn. Although not physically with us, his music lives on.
"Texas Flood!" What a great song!

Training Tips Thursday

Here's a good tip I came across from Allen at Old Man Running:

"I've been noticing that some people swing their arms across their body while they run. As your arms move across your body, your whole upper body tends to twist. People swing their arms this way, because they keep their arms folded across their body. This type of arm-movement isn't considered good running form, because it takes extra muscle-movement and extra energy to move your arms across your body. The solution is to tuck your elbows in toward your waist such that your arms move in and out in a motion parallel to the direction you're going. By doing this, you can keep your upper body stationary and only move your hips and legs."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Personal Yoga Challenge

Instead of my usual Wednesday Green Choices feature, I am posting today on a personal challenge.  When making a resolution to oneself, it is often useful to share the commitment publicly, as an extra incentive to hold oneself accountable.

In recent months, I have felt steadily increasing benefits from the practice of yoga-- physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Too often, when people think of yoga, they think of only the physical practice.  That is an important part of the whole, but still only a part.  I began practicing last year.  I always thought yoga would be beneficial, and intended to try it "someday."  However, what finally drew me into actually starting the physical practice was exposure to a bit of yogic philosophy through reading.  Everything I read seemed to contain answers I sought for many questions.  Yoga is really a vehicle for recognizing the wonder of the universe and the oneness of all things through physical and mental discipline and meditation.  It trains one to better experience the joy of life and the infinite peace that may be gained just by focusing on and appreciating the wonder of each moment.
So, back to my personal challenge.  I wanted to get to the point that I practiced daily.  In honor of September's National Yoga Month, I resolved to make some time each day just for yoga practice, even if just a few minutes.  I think that's my key to being successful, to not set an arbitrary amount of time each day, but to leave it flexible, because there should never be a day that I can find no time at all.
At the end of the month, after 30 consecutive days, daily practice should just feel like a normal part of every day, and it should be fairly easy to sustain long-term. 
This is day 8 of my personal challenge.  So far, so good.  This morning, I warmed up before my run with a nice quick 7 ½ minute routine. I'm sure I'll also find time for at least a quick evening practice also!  The least I've practiced was 12 minutes September 4, and 20 minutes September 2.  Most days have been between 45 minutes and 1 ¼ hours.  Besides, it's never about the time.  It is the quality that is important.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tuesday Quote of the Week

"The body is your temple.
Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in."

~B.K.S Iyengar

Monday, September 6, 2010

Meatless Monday

Running Green supports Meatless Monday, an initiative associated with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The goal of Meatless Monday is to help reduce meat consumption in order to improve public health and the health of the planet.

These delicious-looking recipes are published by the Meatless Monday initiative, and may be found at

Monday Morsels (Source:
Shine from Yahoo! encourages readers to make Mondays meatless with 19 veggie recipes… offers tips on bringing MM to your family’s dinner table… The Organic Authority gives there top 9 picks for MM eateries in NYC… The Owatonna Press explains Monday moderation to Minnesota readers… Women’s media hub Divine Caroline outlines the health, budget and environmental benefits of MM.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Weekly Training: August 30 - September 5

Graphic from my page at The mileage in the graphic includes both running and cycling miles.)

It's a sound training practice to periodically reduce distance and intensity after several cycles of harder training.  So, following three consecutive weeks of running 40+ miles, I reduced run miles to 33 this week.   A light cycling schedule of 10 miles brought my weekly total to 43 miles.  Runs were 2/4/5/4 miles Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday, 8 miles Saturday, and 10 miles Sunday.  I only got on the bike twice, for 2 miles Wednesday, and 8 miles Saturday.  I took a full week off of weight training to rest a sore left shoulder.

This week showed my best focus ever on my yoga.  For a while, I've tried to work towards daily practice, with mixed results.  Two weeks ago, I made a commitment to myself to find time for at least a short session daily in September, for National Yoga Month.  Thirty consecutive days should solidify the routine such that it just becomes something I do every day without conscious planning.  The plan worked well this week.  I practiced each day, between 20 minutes and 1 hour, for a total of about 4 hours. 

YTD: 1,236.5 miles running, 419.3 miles cycling, 1,655.8 miles total.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Food Rules Friday

Today's feature is Rule 15 from Michael Pollan's book, "Food Rules - An Eater's Manual ."

Michael Pollan is an acclaimed author and whole food/heathy eating advocate. He is the author of the best selling "In Defense of Food" and "The Omnivore's Dillemma."

Rule #15:  "Get out of the supermarket whenever you can."

"You won't find any high fructose corn syrup at the farmers' market."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Training Tips Thursday

The subject of last week's training tips post was Power Yoga for Runners.  As a follow-up, I'll share this video.  I tried this "Hip Opening Lunges" series after running, and found it to be an amazing post-run cool down!  After running and working through this routine, I had none of the usual post-run tightness!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Green Choices Wednesday

Eating Green

Simple processes such as making our daily dietary choices have a significant effect on our environment.  Every day, we have two major choices:  where our food is raised, and which foods we choose to eat.

Food Sources - Eating Local
There are a range of choices relating to the sources of our food.  The distance food travels has an impact on air quality.  Obviously, more greenhouse gases are generated transporting food raised farther away.  Buying locally raised food is preferable to buying food raised far away.  However, few areas have year-around growing seasons, or raise all of the products we wish to consume, so we have to make decisions and trade-offs.  For most of us, the decision comes down to eating foods raised as close to home as possible, and eating foods that are in season as much as possible.  And it's not a black and white choice between local and distant; there are a full range of options in between:

1. Home gardening - the ultimate local source:   This is my favorite.  Every year, I grow fresh vegetables in my garden.  It just doesn't get any more local than my own back yard!  There is virtually no transportation involved; maybe just shipping the seeds.  I use home-produced compost instead of chemical fertilizers.  This has several benefits.  This method doesn't support the environmental effects of production and transportation of chemical fertilzer.  There is no resulting chemical runoff into the local watershed when it rains.  Composting my kitchen and yard waste keeps the waste out of landfills, reduces transportation effects from taking waste to landfills, and provides high quality, fresh, organically grown vegetables. 

2. Locally Raised: Visiting local farms or local farmer's markets are great choices.  Transportation is minimal, and locally raised foods are fresher.

3. Regionally Raised:  Many foods that are not available locally may be available regionally.  Any reduction in distance transported benefits the environment.  Here's an example.  When I buy a bag of oranges or grapefruit, I can usually choose between Texas, Florida and California citrus.  Living in Texas, I look for the Texas fruit.  Reading the labels on bags of various fresh produce often tells us the source of the food.  Being informed allows us to make better choices.

4. Nationally vs Internationally Raised:  There are a lot of options.  Do I want to buy apples from the state of Washington, or from New Zealand?  Big difference in distance.

Food Choices - What do we Eat?
What we choose to eat has at least as big an impact as the source of our food.  Choosing organically raised food is more environmentally sound because it is raised without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  Grass-fed beef is a better choice than grain-fed beef.  Less meat is better than more meat.  Studies indicate that as much as 18% of all greenhouse gases are a result of meat production.  Grass is the natural diet for cattle.  Cattle raised on factory farms are fed grain, mostly corn, the digestion of which results in more methane generation than a natural grass diet.  Many people are choosing to eat less meat for many reasons, including health, concern for the environment, and concern for animal treatment.  Just as with food sourcing, there are a range of dietary choices:

1. Meat Reduction:  Many people have chosen not to eat meat every day.  There is a popular Meatless Monday movement.  People have chosen not to eat meat one day per week.  If everyone did this, it would reduce enviromental impact by 1/7, or 14%.  Others have taken it a step further and go meatless several days per week.  My family did this for many years.

2. Flexitarian Diet:  This is a term that I only became familiar with last year, as I researched vegetarianism.  A flexitarian eats a virtually vegetarian diet, with only occasional meat.  The percentage of meat consumption is so low that the environmental impact is very close to that of a total vegetarian diet.  "Occasional" is defined by the individual.  It may be weekly, monthly, or even less.

3. Vegetarian Diet:  A no-meat diet, typically allowing dairy products and eggs.  This is my current choice.  Not as strict as vegan.  Dairy and eggs give two good sources of protein in the absence of meat.  Over the years, I trended from reduced meat, to mostly flexitarian, and finally to vegetarian.  After giving more and more thought to my concerns for the environment, and also to concerns about animal treatment, last year, I could no longer reconcile my views with continued consumption of meat.

4. Vegan Diet:  No meat or animal products at all, including dairy or eggs.

So, we face a lot of choices about our diet.  The choices are not black-or-white, all-or-nothing.  One doesn't have to go to the extreme on every choice.  Just think about your choices, make informed choices, and be aware that there is an effect that results from every choice.  The cumulative effect of many people just helping a little is huge.

Think Green and Live Green!