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Go Green or Go Home

Could It Possibly Be? August 26, 2013

After paper is made, there is left over wood pulp that has been sheared off so the surface of the sheet is smooth and able to be written on or ran through a printer. Once this pulp is gone it cannot be reused, as it is already dried and would not work properly if re-wet.
Where does it go, exactly? Wouldn’t you love to know – wait…promise you won’t hate me. This surplus of wood pulp goes into your food, that’s what. Can you believe it? No?
Well, you will.
McDonald’s McFlurries: (By the way , note how they do not say ‘McShake’s’ or something equally corny. Why, you dare to ask? Because it is not real milk. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.) They are thick, creamy, delicious goblets of liquidated heaven, with maybe a few OreoTM bits stirred in. Or, that’s what they want you to think. In reality, you are so eagerly slurping up wood. Cellulose, one of the key compotes produced and inside wood, thickens food and gives it the texture similar to what flour or oil would provide. Some absolute genius discovered this, and now the cheapskate fast food restaurants are thinking…’JACKPOT!’ And not just restaurants… but companies as well. They have gone to the dark side.
Kraft Bagel-Fuls
Aunt Jemima’s ‘home made’ Maple Syrup
Processed Cheese
Guess what one organic ingredient these have in common? (HINT: …cellulose….)
Surprise! I think I ruined somebody’s happy illusion of delicious fast food. And I’m sorry, if that indeed is the case. But you people need to know what you’re really eating. If the human body ingests cellulose, it is completely indigestible. Instead, it sloshes around your stomach for a while until your body decides to get rid of it (don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about)
How disgusting is that?!
Well, happy fast-food eating! BEWARE THE EXCESS WOOD PULP!
-Kat

Sources: http://www.cracked.com/article_19433_the-6-most-horrifying-lies-food-industry-feeding-you.html
http://mcdonalds.org

Oh, Fun Fact Of The Day! Some loaves of bread have equal wood concent of the (yep! you guessed it!) wooden cutting board they may be sitting on.

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How To Help the Environment Without a Drivers Liscense July 9, 2013

The title is basically a clever way of me telling you that even if you are not an adult and can not give out personal information, drive cars, travel, or handle the electricity bill, you can still help to save the environment and have an impact on our small, small world. (That is actually quite large but small in the grand scheme of things.) The following may seem like small things, but they do great things. (This is kind of similar to the lazy environmentalist post from about a month ago, but many of our followers are teens/tweens and there are other things they can do.)

  1. Donate money to an organization that helps a cause you care about. Not everyone has the time to start organizations about important things, but even if you go on earning your usual amount of money doing chores, babysitting, or, if you’re old enough, doing a job, but setting aside some of your money to give to foundations like The Humane Society or the rainforest or adopting a dolphin or gorilla (not literally; there are programs where you send money that will help a gorilla or dolphin or what have you survive).
  2. Consider doing the simple things that your parents always nag you about. Whether it’s turning the lights off when you leave the room, not littering, using less water, taking shorter showers, or even playing outside (since you aren’t using electricity outside, you are helping the environment), it helps a great deal. You may think that just you doing these things will do nothing at all, but that isn’t true. If everyone who sees this does this little bit, it will help lots of things — fewer electricity will be used, less coal will be burned, fresh water will be saved, animals lives will last a little bit longer. You can do a lot in a little bit of time.
  3. Start getting crafty! By this I mean to start reusing things rather than throwing them away quickly, before all their use is gone. This may seem old-fashioned and annoying, and it kind of is. I myself have a grandmother who never throws anything away, even meat juice. Seriously. Sometimes when she stays with us for a weekend or whatever, I open the fridge and find a container of meat juice. But when you reuse things, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with meat juice, I assure you. Whether it’s using scraps of fabric, plastic, and used bottle caps in crafts or decorations, using bread-bags to carry things instead of just throwing them away, or even reusing your plastic water bottles by refilling them with water because hey! They can still hold water. You can even use candy wrappers as decorations if you’re working on a big project — that’s what my friends and I did when we were building a house out of foam and furnishing it without buying anything for school.
  4. Give your parents a break. No, you don’t have to stop bugging them about making you do useless chores by making your bead, but you can give them a break in the “driving you everywhere” category. Instead of making them drive you to the park, bike or walk. Instead of making them drive you to school, bike or walk if it’s close enough or carpool with people if it’s too far away. I think we all know about how oil and fumes and such from cars hurt the environment, and it’s also really expensive. Walking or biking or carpooling will give your parents breaks in more ways than one and will also help the earth.

These are only four ways you can help the environment without having a driver’s license, but there are so many more things you can do! Google it, ask people, or get creative and make it up yourself. Our world won’t last forever, and it won’t just heal itself. We have to do everything we can do to help it, and anything will help. So get out there and do your part. The world — and all of its inhabitants — will certainly appreciate it!

~Mary, Author at Bonsai

 

Not So Vegetarian After All: Animal Traces in Seemingly Meatless Food July 2, 2013

I recently converted back to an all-vegetarian lifestyle, and I’m even eating vegan most days. However, we all could be eating food made with some disgusting ingredients taken from animals, without our knowing it! Things like gelatin and cochineal are hidden in our day-to-day snacks, right under our noses. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you should educate yourself very well on hidden dead animals in your  cake or hot sauce. Yes, you read that right- cake and hot sauce. Here, from Buzzfeed Food, are 9 Surprising Things That Might Not Be Vegetarian.

Not So Vegetarian After All

Why is this such a big problem, not only for non-animal eaters, but for omnivores as well? Food companies are concealing things from us, cheating us out of a lifestyle that many of us go to large lengths to preserve.  And even if you’re alright with an occasional tuna salad sandwich, I’m not sure how much you’d enjoy a fish’s bladder in your alcohol, crushed bones in your sugar, or intestines in your cheese. (Don’t forget the beetles in your Swedish Fish.) Have you lost your appetite yet? 

 

And what about people who are allergic to these hidden ingredients? Not only will they have a reaction, it might be confusing to bystanders who don’t know what’s really in the food the allergic person just ate. I’d also like to point out that eating cheese lined with intestines isn’t exactly what you’d call a gourmet meal. It’s dangerous, it’s gross, and it’s hiding information that the public deserves to know.

 

Not only is it revolting to think of such unseemly parts in your food, it’s ruining vegan and vegetarian meals for anyone who buys it. Always check the ingredients before buying.

 

For Your Reference:

Vegan Brands by PETAKiDs

Bone Char Sugar by Vegan Products Guide

Vegan Alcohol by Barnivore

 

Ceej

 

3 Ways You Might Body-Shame Without Realizing It June 24, 2013

When you leave the safety of your house and its wondrous wifi, you’ll see a multitude of people in different shapes and sizes. Some of them will be your friends, and that’s awesome. Some of them you may not know or like. I bet, however, you and a friend have discussed your bodies at some point, or you know somebody who has recently  lost weight. You probably haven’t noticed it, but you may have been insulting their body type when you were trying to compliment them. How?

1) Congratulating someone for losing weight

You may feel like you’re giving them a compliment, but when you say ‘congrats’ about their new size, it has implications that they’re better than they were before, and if they were larger for a long time, they may feel like you didn’t accept their body until now. In most cases, people gain back the weight they lost, which will make your earlier praise feel like an insult now that they’ve grown it back. It doesn’t matter what they look like, so tell them how happy you are that they’ve accomplished a goal rather than how happy you are with their new weight.

2) Mentally adjusting someone’s looks

I’m talking about saying things like, “She would be so pretty if…” and filling in the blank. Noooooo. She is pretty just the way she is. If she changes for what you think she’d look better, that person will no longer be the person they once were. They’ll be a fake. Don’t tell someone what’s wrong with them, because they don’t need to change.

3) Telling people what they ‘need’ to do

I hear people saying sometimes that thin people need to eat more, or looking at someone across the street and commenting that they could stand to lose a few pounds. This goes with Number 2- they don’t need to fit your cultural stereotype. As long as they don’t have a disorder or anything potentially harmful, then they don’t need to change. If they want to exercise, good for them. If they want to stay the weight they are, good for them.

The bottom line? As long as their weight isn’t a dangerous problem, they’re  beautiful. This goes for men and women. Let them be themselves, and they’ll appreciate that you are yourself as well.

Ceej

 

Religious Literacy June 12, 2013

You probably know somebody from a different culture or set of beliefs. They may not celebrate the same holidays as you or have the same customs as you. You know the name of their religion, maybe some of the holidays they celebrate, but you probably don’t know the basis of their beliefs, their practices, or what higher being they worship, if they believe in one. And that’s where religious literacy ties in.

While looking for images that showed a diversity of religious standpoints, I found a lot of thought-provoking things that are sometimes tread lightly around, but I think I'll make posts on those later.

While looking for images that showed a diversity of religious standpoints, I found a lot of thought-provoking things that are sometimes tread lightly around, but I think I’ll make posts on those later.

What is religious literacy?

It’s knowledge about the different religions of the world and their practices. This includes the holy text, the laws that they live by, if they believe in a deity or god, and which one or ones they do, as well as other important facts. Someone who is religiously illiterate isn’t culturally enlightened, and may have trouble being open-minded. A lot of religion-based prejudice comes from a lack of understanding, therefore creating a lack of acceptance. Stephen Prothero wrote a book about it’s importance that inspired this post, which I plan to read sometime.

 

Why is it important to be religiously literate?

Not only will you be able to better understand the people around you, you will have a greater acceptance of people who believe different things. It will increase your cultural knowledge, and people will thank you for understanding and accepting their religion. As you learn more about different religions, you can help to erase the misconceptions and narrow-mindedness. You will also be able to get in touch with your own spirituality (or lack thereof) and learn things about your religion’s history that you never knew. Or, you may decide that you do not want to be part of any category. It is an internally rewarding journey as well as one that will help you and others to understand.

 

How can you improve your ‘religious IQ’?

I’m taking a religious study class over the summer because I’m required to. (But seriously, I think it will be a very good opportunity for me to become more religiously literate, and the class is actually very interesting! Yes, though, I am required to by my school.) You can search online about different religions, purchase a book or check one out from your library, ask your friends about their individual customs, or attend a talk or workshop. I promise it will make a difference!

 

And finally, a shout out to the Bonsai ruler of religious literacy…

That’s right, Mary, I’m talking to you! We can’t thank you enough for inventing and taking on the project of Spotlight on Religion. It’s definitely enlightened us and the readers, and we eagerly await all the posts from that category!

 

Ceej

 

The Problem with Microwave Popcorn May 19, 2013

You probably already know that microwave popcorn is full of fat and salt, not to mention the fake butter. In my opinion, I find it to be absolutely disgusting, but the reasons why you shouldn’t eat it are much more serious than that. Workers in the factories making and packaging the popcorn have developed an incredibly rare form of lung cancer. The cancer has been caused just by inhaling the fumes- think of what can happen when you’re eating what produces those fumes! And if that’s not bad enough, the lining of the bag is made with PFOA, or  perfluorooctanoic acid, which is also linked to cancer and other conditions such as infertility.

Good news, though. Since raw kernels (meant to be popped on the stove or in a special popper) aren’t made with all those dangerous chemicals, they’re a-okay to eat, and can even be considered a health food. Air popped corn has a very low calorie count, while stovepopped corn with oil can raise that count, but not by too much. It contains fiber, as well as complex carbohydrates.

Not only is it bad for us, the consumers, but it is too late for the workers in the factories- they have already gotten the cancer. The companies and manufacturers that created such an unhealthy recipe should have made one healthier, so it would be safer for the factory workers and the buyers.

I did a bit of research on microwave popcorn brands and came across a site that advertised its popcorn as being ‘healthy and full of fiber.’ Granted, they also have PFOA-free bags, but that’s just one step towards creating food that is safe for those who come in contact with it. Microwave popcorn is full of dangerous chemicals and if you value your health and the health of factory workers, I suggest you stay far, far away.

Ceej

 

Finding What Healthy Means to You March 11, 2013

Filed under: Health,Inner Beauty,Lifestyle — mochi @ 6:12 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Healthy is always viewed as a good thing. But surpassing a good thing and really getting into it… what does it mean to you? The dictionary definition of health is the general condition of the body or mind with reference to soundness and vigor- free of disease or ailment. For some people, however, healthy is equivalent to happy. And then there is the other end of the spectrum: having a “hot” body and being super skinny. Healthy, to me, is being strong in the muscles and free of conditions that cause harm or pain to your body. I tend to be a grammatical person and abide by the dictionary, so by no means do I urge you to use my definition of healthy. I want you to find your own.

First, think: what do you do to be healthy? Spring break started and I have composed a workout schedule that I plan to do every day. I don’t eat very well, so I’m asking my family to find flexitarian food options for me to nom on- I’m a really picky eater. Whatever you do to keep yourself in good health, start with that. Sometimes, finding what healthy means to you can be hard. Here are some ways you can stay healthy without over exerting yourself or doing diets that can be harmful. You should be happy about your body and have the strength to defend yourself and do the things you want!
Eggs

Eat Food with Protein- for energy and strength
Instead of just eating carbs all day, (like I do… sigh) eat food that packs protein so you can have energy throughout the day! Eat eggs- the yolk has the most protein. You can boil, scramble, fry, or do whatever you want to them to make them tasty, as long as you don’t use too much extra fat like tons of salt or a vat of oil. That would completely undermine the purpose. Meat, like chicken, pork, and steak, are also great sources of protein. I hate all of them- I’m a flexitarian, which means I allow myself to eat white meat (fish and poultry) but I rarely do. However, if you are a meat eater, these foods are great! Dairy, and nuts, like peanuts, almonds, and cashews (yummy!) also build protein, which helps you gain muscle and become strong! *flexes skimpy muscles* Well, no worries, I will keep eating protein to have energy.

Don’t Eat Before Bed- prevent fat buildup!
If you eat right before bed, you won’t have time to burn off the calories collected from your last meal. This is bad because when you arise the next morning, you’ll feel sluggish and blah. Usual dinner hours are 5-7 for my family, because we usually don’t eat at the same time every night. Find what works best for you so that you can walk around and get a bit of moving in before you catch those much-needed zzzzzz’s.

Feel Good About Your Food- keep those nutrients
Did you know that berating yourself for your food choices can actually stop the nutrients in a meal from using their full potential? For a week, I tried a “no-wheat” diet to find out what was giving me stomach aches. During one of the days, people were having a bake sale at school, and I went insane- bread is my main food source and I hadn’t had any in 24 hours. I bought baked goods, and later I felt absolutely awful. I still feel the regret now! The stress and self-deprication that I felt all during lunch stopped whatever teensy shred of nutrients in those blondies from getting to where they needed to go: and when I think about it later, that makes me feel even more awful, actually. But I know it’s okay because I’m back on wheat and feeling so much better about my food choices.

HealthyTrust Yourself!
You know when you are hungry and when you’re not. Even if something tastes really good, if you’re full, you should stop eating. Generally, when you think you’re 80% full, you’re actually 100% full. Just think of how full you’d be if you thought you were 100%… and then you just ate a little more. Pretty full, right? Definitely! So make sure you listen to your body so it can tell you how much your really want. Also, the most important thing is to feel confident. If you know you will only feel confident once you have enough strength to play that sport you love, then go for it and build muscle. But there are some kinds of confident that are bad for your body. Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are not healthy at all, and they if you have one, you should tell a doctor immediately. Aim for good taste in your foods- it will help you collect more antioxidants and iron.

Most importantly, being healthy means being happy with your body and your choices. You need to feel like something’s right with yourself, and then reach for your goals. Find out what you want to do to be healthy, and do it. Here at Bonsai, we are dedicated to you living better so you can become a leader of the future working to make the world a better place, and you can start by making your own personal world a healthier one. 🙂

(Facts about taste and food regret affecting nutrients come from New Moon Girls Magazine.)

Ceej, Vice President of Bonsai

 

 
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