Humans have been gardening since the dawn of civilization so by now there must be some instinct built into all of us. And besides, when you are reaching out to your constructive and creative primal state you are waking things inside of you that have been asleep for far too long. I think that's why gardening has so many health benefits like relieving stress, improving mental health and physical well-being.
If people were successful at planting and growing food thousands of years ago what makes you think you can't do it today given ALL of the freaking resources available to you 24-7? FYI, way back when, they managed to grow food just fine without all the toxic, polluting, soil-eroding, water and air contaminating, bee- and baby-killing chemicals so ORGANIC, ORGANIC, ORGANIC is the way you were meant to grow food. And the current state of your health is there to confirm that statement.
Reasons To Grow Your Own Food:
I am definitely no expert on gardening, heck, I've only been doing it for a few months. However, I am good at taking something that might seem overwhelming and complex and JUST DOING IT! (For example, I'm not very good at blogging as it takes me a long time to write just one measly blog, but here I am). You want to learn how to swim, you jump in a pool. You want to learn guitar, you get a guitar. You want to grow your own food, you get seeds, dirt and a pot. Keep it basic. But, like everything else that matters in life, it takes a little patience, a willingness to make mistakes and a determination to keep trying.
I love this website because it lets you know when produce is in season in your state! Do you have a favorite fruit or vegetable, and you'd love to get it fresh and local, but you don't know when it is normally harvested in your area? Then you are in luck: click the button below to get the United States first national crop harvest calendars.
Our nonprofit has seen tremendous growth over these last few years which is an amazing feat considering it is run by a small group of volunteers already dedicated to full-time careers. We've seen what we can accomplish given limited resources and time and now we are ready to see what good things we can do given the opportunity. Successes in our events like Northeast Florida Veg Fest and No Meat March get bigger and bigger each year and we need to build on that momentum and mobilize people throughout the year. We are hoping by entering One Spark we can do the unimaginable here in our little corner of the world and forever change the landscape of Florida, figuratively and literally.
We want to host an effective Southeast Conference that will accomplish positive changes in three main areas: the environment, animals and our health. In order to succeed we will be reaching out to leaders, activists, civil servants, lawmakers, city organizers and people hungry for change inviting them to gather in Jacksonville, Florida in 2015. If change is going to happen, we need to demand it, our voices need to be unified and strong and we can do that by connecting and stay connected year after year. The goals of the conference are:
What are the most pressing issues facing us in the Southeast? Here is our preliminary list, but we plan to build on this once a survey is collected from all the potential participants.
1. To replace unhealthy, high-fat foods in public school lunches with healthier, yet delicious options.
2. To help steer industry away from single-use plastics and Styrofoam.
3. To remove greyhound racing from the gambling industry.
4. To phase out inherently cruel delicacies which are foie gras and veal.
5. To see an end to the use of electrical prods and bull hooks on animals.
6. To even the playing field and end bait and canned hunting.
7. To protect our health and drinking water by ending water fluoridation.
8. To minimize harmful environmental practices in businesses looking to get established in the Southeast.
Please, won't you join us on our journey? Continue to follow The Girls Gone Green while we try and solve the many environmental, animal and health problems by proposing viable solutions that can be adopted on a city and state level.
1. Register on the One Spark website or APP - it's FREE
2. Bookmark The Girls Gone Green project (#20336)
3. Come on out and VOTE from April 9th through April 13th!
COME CHECK OUT OUR FAST PITCH @ ONE SPARK
WHEN: FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2014
WHERE: HEMMING PLAZA, 135 MONROE STREET WEST, JACKSONVILLE, FL 32202
Help us get to where we want to go and come hear us pitch our idea now that we are an official One Spark creator!
On Friday, April 11th at 6:30 p.m. in Hemming Plaza, Julie Watkins, Executive Director of The Girls Gone Green will take the stage for a brief 5 minutes to try and convince you why our nonprofit deserves to be awarded.
If you can't make our pitch no worries, we will be out there all day Wednesday through Sunday (April 9-13) at Main Street Park! Please swing by our tent, take pics with our mascots, try some free samples and most importantly - VOTE FOR OUR PROJECT!
What sets your Project apart from what is currently available?
Not many organizations fight for healthy eating habits and protection of the environment and animals as passionately as we do. We are a volunteer-run organization working with a limited budget. Successes include the growth of our Northeast Florida Veg Fest every year since 2010, turning our local campaign, No Meat Meat, into an international initiative, raising awareness about health and nutrition, phasing out Styrofoam in restaurants at the beaches and more. We are ready to take these wins and experience gained to a bigger platform which will make an even bigger difference.
Why are you and your team the best people on the planet to handle this project?
We are driven by our hearts and our need to make our community better, cleaner, healthier and more humane. Five ladies have been able to effectively tackle issues that come with a lot of stigma, and we've done it with a positive attitude. We have seen our local community transform since starting our nonprofit and we are ready to spread that transformation beyond our city limits.
CLICK HERE TO RSVP TO THE ONE SPARK PITCH!
Is it possible? A world free of those lightweight, yet potentially dangerous foam to-go containers? Well, as the saying goes - Think Globally, Act Locally - and that's the way The Girls Gone Green is approaching the foamy mess in Jacksonville, Florida!
Hang up the Foam is an initiative driven by The Girls Gone Green Projects Specialist, Christina Kelcourse. She wants to make it easier for restaurants to replace hazardous Styrofoam food containers with safer, more eco-friendly alternatives.
Those little transport cups and boxes seem so harmless when carrying our much needed coffee and leftovers. Hardly! The dangers can start the minute hot liquid or food comes in contact with the Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) which is Styrofoam. You see, EPS is made using Styrene, a lab animal carcinogen and a possible human carcinogen and neurotoxin. Styrene can migrate from polystyrene containers into food and beverages when heated, or in contact with fatty or acidic foods. Occupational exposure to Styrene increases risk of lymphoma, leukemia, lung tumors, pancreatic cancer, urinary bladder cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. Yuck!
Then, because of it's low recycling rate, it becomes dangerous to the rest of the world. EPS foam appears to last forever as it is resistant to be broken down by a light source which normally triggers a process for chemical compounds to decompose. This, combined with the fact that the foam is lightweight and therefore ﬂoats, means that over time a great deal of polystyrene has accumulated along coasts and waterways around the world. It is now thought to be the main component of marine debris. The debris, unfortunately, then becomes food for many animals and since they are unable to digest all these chemicals, they end up dead.
Basically, EPS is considered non-sustainable, an air pollutant and food contaminant - oh my!
I know that's a lot to take in, but that's why we are here! The goal of the campaign is to reduce human health risks, protect wildlife, have cleaner beaches, and ultimately eliminate the use of foam in the boxing, preparing, and serving of food. The Girls Gone Green feels that by educating restaurant owners and the public about the health and environmental hazards of EPS foam we can protect some of our most precious resources.
We have been reaching out to the restaurant industry in Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach in hopes of working together to eliminate foam containers due to its high probability of leaking known carcinogens into your food.
Kelcourse who is a strong advocate for safer, more sustainable to-go containers has been communicating with various restaurants located near the beaches. She was able to give me some insight into what has her so fired up about to-go foam.
Why did you decide to head up the 'Hang Up the Foam' campaign?
Christina: When I learned about the potential health problems linked to eating food off Styrofoam I knew I had to do something about it. Working on this HUTF campaign is my way of spreading the word so more people know what I now know.
What have you learned a long the way?
Christina: I have learned that people are receptive to what I've learned AND they want to take steps to reduce Styrofoam use too! Practically everybody I have talked to believes reducing Styrofoam use is the right thing to do. But unfortunately, I have also learned that saving money can sometimes overpower doing the right thing.
Do you think the campaign is making a difference? What will it take to make it a success?
Christina: I believe it is. We are spreading the word. Even if all we do is educate people, that is successful to me. But we are actually getting restaurants to stop using this product which is our goal. It will be nice to watch this year as we get more and more places to make the switch.
How do you avoid Styrofoam or EPS foam in your daily life?
Christina: I try not to buy any products that use Styrofoam packaging. I also ask each and at every restaurant I go to for a Styrofoam-free alternative. And I try to avoid restaurants that only use Styrofoam.
Styrofoam has been found to be unhealthy, unsafe and one of the largest non-recycled waste products in landfills today.
Recently, Culhane's Irish Pub in Atlantic Beach joined our Hang Up the Foam campaign and made the switch from foam containers to biodegradable alternatives becoming the first of hopefully many victories. What's unique about Culhane's is that it's a restaurant owned by four Irish sisters who are living the American dream. After leaving Ireland for the beaches of Jacksonville they were able to start up their own business without the help of a bank or investors. Today, they share their Irish traditions at Culhane's Irish Pub located just off Atlantic Boulevard in Atlantic Beach. And, again on their own they have decided it was time to Hang Up the Foam. I was able ask one of the owners, Mary Jane about why she decided to make the switch and do it so quickly.
Why did Culhane's Irish Pub decide to replace its Styrofoam containers with eco-friendly alternatives and join the Hang Up the Foam campaign?
Mary Jane: After hearing the statistics, especially when hot foods melt on the Styrofoam and cause health problems that was enough for us to CHANGE! Styrofoam is nasty for your health and the environment - not biodegradable and who wants to see this stuff on the earth forever - not our children!
Has there been a response from customers?
Mary Jane: To-go diners love the new changes and appreciate us taking action - nobody wants to eat out of a toxic to-go box!! Parents love having their kids drink out of the eco-friendly cup. We are currently working on a new kid design with a local supplier.
Is it cost-effective to make the switch?
Mary Jane: It costs 25% more for the eco-friendly option, but we feel like the health benefit is more important than the cost. We make it up by having more families dine with us.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Mary Jane: We are parents and we care about all of us eating well, and of course, leaving a cleaner planet for our kids. Many small steps make up a big difference, and awareness is important. We offer many healthy sides for kids including apples, mashed potatoes and steamed veggies. Nothing comes out of a can and everything is made from scratch.
by Julie Watkins
I stumbled upon this awesome detox and decided to try it the very next day in hopes of getting good food in my body and becoming more energized. Well, it worked! It worked better than I thought it would. Keep in mind the first two days will be your transition days. Your body will be going through some changes adjusting to all the good meals you're consuming and will start ridding your body of the bad stuff like caffeine, sugar and white flour. By day 3, hopefully you will feel and look better. Detoxes actually become easier the longer you do them and that's why many people have just as much success with 7, 10, even 30 day detoxes. But, you know what I loved about this particular one so much? YOU GET TO EAT! Unlike juice fasts or master cleanses which really take your health to the next level, this one is a nice transition into taking care of yourself while still satisfying many urges. Enjoy and good luck!
4:00PM - Banana
7:00PM - Chop 1/2 cup of broccoli florets into small pieces. Chop 2 large carrots and 1 whole red onion. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan over medium heat. Place all the vegetables into the pan and cook for 10 minutes. Once browned, you're good to go!
Try to fight your cravings and addictions. All these foods will work together beautifully throughout the day to give you what you need. Remember it's ONLY 3 DAYS!! We can do this!
As Day 2 is over you should already be feeling the benefits and the detox, noticing the skin is a lot more hydrated, smooth and less oily. The stomach should feel a lot fresher and not feel bloated at all.
Upon waking drink your green tea or change it up and squeeze some lemon juice into either cold or warm water and sprinkle some cayenne pepper on top.
8:00AM - Slice the grapefruit, scoop out flesh and juice. Add to a bowl along with cherries (cut in half) and thinly sliced apples. Pour some apple juice over the fruit if desired.
10:00AM - Coconut or soy yogurt mixed with blueberries.
On Day 3 we are really packing in the super-foods which will help eliminate those bad toxins and bad bacteria! After the final day of detoxing you will feel energized, healthier and happier with your skin looking and feeling improved.
Upon waking drink your green tea or change it up and squeeze some lemon juice into either cold or warm water and sprinkle some cayenne pepper on top.
8:00AM - Slice the grapefruit, scoop out flesh and juice. Enjoy!
10:00AM - Coconut or soy yogurt mixed with blueberries.
12:30PM - Heat oil in pan at low heat, place spinach in the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Place about a 2 handfuls of diced carrots and baby tomatoes in the pan and cook for 3 more minutes. Lay the lettuce leaves on a plate and place everything on top.
4:00PM - Handful of almonds (these will provide the body with good fats which help to transport all the nutrients and vitamins consumed over the last day and a half, they are also high in proteins to help repair muscle tissues.)
7:00PM - Heat oil in a frying pan. Chop the broccoli and beetroot into small pieces and place in the pan. Cook for 10 minutes and add the walnuts. Cook a bit more, then squeeze lemon on top, eat away!
(The super-food broccoli can help get rid of cancers by using its high levels of folic acid, calcium and vitamins. It can also prevent the risk of cataracts and heart disease, therefore making this dinner very powerful in a detox diet. It is so healthy you can eat as much of this meal as you want. Beetroot can provide all kinds of goodness to the body, helping to replenish the skin and digestive system. The nuts help beat heart disease and help repair muscle tissue while the lemon destroys bacteria in the intestines and cleanse the digestive system).
by Theresa Krupa-Aiken
Being a vegan, one faces many obvious challenges on a daily basis. One issue that I personally had many a sleepless night over was what to do with all of the animal clothing items that I had accumulated prior to becoming vegan.
While most of us are not financially able to replace all of our items at once, the question is when you can replace something what do you do with the animal product that you once wore? There are many different opinions on this subject, such as selling the items and donating the money to an animal sanctuary, donating the item to the poor, and some people want to continue to wear the item as a reminder of the animal that they are now fighting for daily. Well, I thought about each of these choices and I didn't agree with any of them for my own personal reasons. I didn't want to sell the item to have someone wear it and cause another person to go and buy one just like it. This applied to giving it to the poor as well. As far as wearing the item? Well, I just could not do that.
One item in particular that was part of my wardrobe was a jacket. A leather jacket. A leather jacket made of lambskin. Those of you that know me are saying “What???” I did not purchase the jacket, it was a gift for my graduation from my Grandmother, but yes, I owned a lambskin leather jacket.
So after thinking and thinking about what I should do I came up with this resolution: I was going to bury it. Yes, I said bury it. I wanted this poor creature that died a terrible death for its skin to finally be put to rest. So the decision was made. The first thing that I had to do was give my friend a name. While I owned the jacket it was just that....a jacket, nothing more. My friend who died to make this jacket deserved a name. Now many of you are saying “This is nuts!” Growing up, my father's best friend was Cherokee. He taught me many things and one thing he used to say to me was "Every animal deserves a name." You can call it whatever you want to call it but it will then be known to you and you to it. I have never forgotten this. I decided to name my jacket Baba.
Baba was a beloved lamb in one of my favorite Christmas stories and I always wished I could hug him as a child. I didn't personally know Baba but he gave his life, a life that I had no right to. The least I could do was give him a name.
Now, how and where do I do it? I did a lot of research on this because I didn't want Baba’s remains to harm any other creature. Too much pain had already been in this poor animal’s life and his remains should be at peace. I found that I could make a home for other creatures and they would help in the decomposition of my dear friend (there are many specifics to consider when choosing the right site, especially concerning local regulations about burying animals around water locations both private and public, so if you make this choice you will have to research on your own for the perfect spot).
I removed the things that he was not born with and put them aside (buttons, zippers, etc.). I gathered the things I wanted to bury him with and we headed off to his final resting place. Once we arrived I let him lie in the grass, something he probably never got to do. I let the sunshine warm his skin, even if it was just for the briefest of moments. I dug his grave about 3 feet down, gathered some dead sticks and logs from the forest floor, put them in the grave, and laid a cotton pillow case on top of them. Then I placed him in the hole and laid flowers on him. I sat there with him for a moment. I thanked him and made a promise to him that I would fight for the rest of my life for him and his sisters and brothers to be free.
Finally, I told him to run and be free and that if someday he sees me I will gladly give him cuddles and kisses. Oh, and as many treats as he would want! I then dumped the potting soil that I brought with me on top of him, and plenty of water too. I wanted to encourage other animals to come and live there and be happy. I made a compost site out of Baba's grave. I gave Baba back all of the dirt that I took out when I placed him inside, and on the top I planted wild flowers.
In concluding, giving Baba his name, returning him back to the earth and acknowledging what he died for, and finally knowing that he was now at peace, I felt a little bit better. I felt stronger. I will continue to fight for him and all of the animals that die simply for our pleasure and vanity. I will not allow his death and so many others be forgotten. I wish you all well and hope that maybe this will help you make a decision on what you want to do with your items. Thank you for reading.
by The Girls Gone Green
The Girls Gone Green's New Logo
The Girls Gone Green had to go in for some very important surgery! We are currently in recovery mode, but certainly excited to show off our new look. It wasn't because we were insecure with our physical appearance, no. But, since our new word for 2013 is simplicity, we needed to make sure our outside reflected how we felt on the inside.
You may remember that The Girls Gone Green founder, Julie Watkins was much younger when this organization was established (*cough cough). She's more mature these days and the image of two girls with the motto, "It's Time To Get Dirty," just didn't reflect her growth and the growth of the organization.
Julie recalls, "Also, a lot of people kept asking if our organization was an all-girls club. No way! We are very inclusive and I believe the new logo really reflects The Girls Gone Green's mission of devoting ourselves to environmental, animal and health issues, not just the environment as signified by our last logo."
The new logo showcases all the causes near and dear to the hearts of its core group. It symbolizes the connectivity between animals, people, food choices and the health of the planet. The heart in the center represents the love and compassion needed towards each in order to achieve a healthier and happier lifestyle. "People will try to live their lives separately from nature and the planet - very disconnected. We are seeing the harm that it's creating to all that sustains us and fills us positively emotionally and mentally," Julie says, "We hope our logo can be an inspiration to find balance in yourself by finding happiness in everything that shares this planet with you."
Along with the logo, the facelift also includes a new website, a new monthly event called A G3 Affair and an expansion of the organization to other cities across the country - all in which will be unveiled in the following weeks.
A big thanks to Michael Barnhart from The Shepherd Agency and Kristin Jackson for lending their expertise in designing such a well-crafted logo. It's a great representation of The Girls Gone Green as we embrace our roots of simplicity.
by The Girls Gone Green
by The Girls Gone Green
Vegjax.com Promotes a Healthier, More Humane Lifestyle
The Girls Gone Green, a Jacksonville-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting environmental, animal and health issues, announces the launch of www.vegjax.com, Jacksonville’s Veg-Friendly Dining Guide. This is the first-of-its-kind local website dedicated to making it easy for residents and travelers to find healthier, more humane options at restaurants in Jacksonville and surrounding areas.
More than 50 restaurants are listed and broken down by area including St. Augustine, Riverside, Fernandina Beach, San Marco, Southside, Beaches and more. Every suggestion details what items on menus are free from any animal products or by-products, which have been linked to obesity, heart disease and cancer. The guide makes it extremely easy for people who have health concerns or special food requirements to eat out.
In addition to listing veg-friendly menu items in an easy to navigate format, the site includes recommendations from The Girls Gone Green, photos and local special event listings. The website is designed to make it easy to enjoy a healthier, more humane lifestyle while dining at local restaurants. Visitors to the site are welcome to submit new menu items for review.
Men’s Health magazine ranked Jacksonville as the 12th fattest city in America a few years ago and The Girls Gone Green would like to see the River City fall off that list by equipping people with healthier food options in a place full of fast food restaurants. They feel if the demand is there, then selections on menus will begin to grow.
According to Dr. Jon Repole of Jacksonville Health and Wellness Center, “The Girls Gone Green’s new veg-dining guide is an invaluable resource for our community and anyone visiting or traveling through our great city who seek optimal health and longevity.”
The Girls Gone Green feels that the website helps to promote a healthier, happier First Coast. Also, the restaurant guide will not list businesses that serve two of society’s cruelest foods – Veal and Foie Gras. Once restaurants remove these menu items, they can then qualify to be featured on the site.
The Girls Gone Green is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2007 and devoted to heightening people’s awareness about how to improve the quality of our lives by improving the world around us. More information can be found at www.thegirlsgonegreen.com.