Just a few blocks away from me in my city neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio, urban homesteader and food educator Rachel Tayse Baillieul lives seasonally and sustainably. She raises backyard chickens, presses apples into cider, and makes homemade butter.
I don’t do any of those things, and probably never will. But I still find a lot of inspiration in her blog Hounds in the Kitchen because I’m always looking for ways to eat, cook, and live healthier–and just a little bit simpler. So I asked Rachel, mom to 5-year-old Lillian, to share five steps to healthier living that anyone can take. Here’s what she said:
1. Go for Glass
I store everything, from leftovers to road trip snacks to spices, in glass jars. They are immensely durable (my five year old takes them in her school lunch and hasn’t broken one yet!) and free of BPA, heavy metals, carcinogens, or other dangers lurking in plastic storage containers.
I use tiny quarter pint jars for cheese slices, pints and quarts for dry storage of beans, sugar, and flour, and half gallons for homemade jerky, tea and juice. With only two lid sizes, switching to glass jars eliminates the struggle of finding a matched set of plastic storage.
2. Eat Seasonally
When you eat what is grown locally and in season, it is healthier for you because ingredients do not need to be laden with preservative sprays and have more vitamins when ripened in the soil. The less distance produce travels, the less CO2 expelled into the environment. Eating seasonally is tastier because the ingredients are fresh and ripe. Farmer’s markets are my favorite sources for affordable, local, seasonal foodstuffs.
3. Buy Whole Vegetables
When you purchase vegetables with their tops and roots together, they last far longer in the refrigerator–up to three weeks. I make a big purchase at the farmer’s market or grocery and store head lettuce, beets with tops, and whole carrots in loosely tied plastic sacks in my crisper drawer. Yes, they take a little bit more trimming and preparation later, but reducing trips to the grocery saves gas and impulse spending, not to mention the pain of negotiating with children in the checkout line.
4. Adopt a No-Shoe Policy
The dirt tracked in by shoes doesn’t just add to your housekeeping work, it overwhelmingly contains heavy metals and toxins. At our front and back doors we have large washable doormats. We keep shoe bins next to the doors and have changed our habits to take shoes off as soon as we walk in, asking guests to do the same.
5. Grow Plants
Did you know that gardening improves the mental, spiritual, and emotional health of individuals? And that indoor plants clean the air? Every family can grow something in a sunny window, pot on the patio, or small section of an existing landscape.
My family focuses on growing edible plants indoors and out. Oregano, parsley, lavender and mint are very hardy perennials for outdoors. Lettuces, tomatoes, spinach, and peppers are easy to grow in containers. Indoors, we love our lemon and fig tree.
What are your family’s simple healthy habits?
Photo by Rachel Tayse Baillieul