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April 22, 2010

Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?

Do you know where your food comes from? Do you want to know? You most certainly should...

There are two documentaries that every North American needs to watch: King Corn and Food, Inc.. Both films provide an eye-opening look at the food industry and how it has changed in the last thirty years. King Corn can be handled fairly soon after eating, but for Food, inc., you will want to make sure that any fast food cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, or sausage & egg biscuits are out of your system before viewing... and don't even think about eating during it.

If you think you are ready to go straight to the hard stuff, then be my guest... PBS aired the film last night as part of their POV (Point of View) series, and you can see a preview of it here: POV: Food, Inc. [Note: The entire film was available for viewing immediately after airing on PBS, but not any longer]

There is good news for those of us in Oregon or Washington when it comes to fast food -- Burgerville uses a truly sustainable business model which includes sourcing fresh, local ingredients from area food suppliers, including natural (not corn-fed) beef. Here is a list of their suppliers: Sustainable Business Partners. A steady diet of Burgerville is probably not the best idea, but as a treat every now and then, it is a pretty good option.

Now that you know where your food comes from, how do you change your eating habits to ensure you are getting natural products? I don't have all the answers for that question, but here are a few good places to start:

0. Grow your own food. Thanks for the reminder, Kris! ;-)
1. Buy fresh produce from local farmer's markets when possible.
2. Avoid buying products made from high-fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils.
3. Look for breads and pastas that use whole grains ("wheat bread" does not equal "whole wheat bread"), and avoid the use of HFCS or PHO's.
4. Look for certified 'Organic' or 'Natural' products including meat, poultry, vegetables, and pre-packaged foods (even Ketchup and Peanut Butter).
5. Buy a quarter or a half of grass-fed beef from a local farmer, and have a local butcher-shop package it for you.

Buying fresh, natural foods is going to be more expensive, make no mistake about that, but isn't your family's health worth it? Isn't your health worth it? The only way we can get these multi-national food corporations to change their un-sustainable ways is to hit them where it really matters... in the pocket-book. Money is the only thing that matters to them. It's time to take charge of where your food comes from and tell the big companies where they can go. Your life may just depend on it.

April 17, 2010

Fun Friday Night

Last night we went out to dinner to our new favorite restaurant, Mi Famiglia, but this time we went with our friends Craig & Jana and Dave & Julie. We parked up above downtown Oregon City and took the elevator down to Mi Famiglia, as the kids love this route.

We had a great dinner and great conversation, and then headed off to Craig & Jana's to see their baby donkey. We discovered that the elevator closed at 7:00, and had to take the stairs (center picture) instead. The kids declared that taking the stairs was even better than taking the elevator -- you are closer to the railroad tracks, you get to see a broader view of the downtown area, and there's a cool waterfall that runs under the stairs at one point. We'll have to take this route more often I guess...

After checking out the baby donkey, Jana took the kids into the barn (actually a big recreation building), and they had a blast... no computer, no TV, no DVD player, and no video games!


The collection of guitars, banjos, ukuleles, and mandolins was a big hit.


Noah gets to borrow this one for a while -- it's actually a baritone ukelele.


Future rock star?


Or future country star?


Future comedian?


Or future comedian? :-)


Wouldn't you know it... he's already sold out and doing Coca-Cola commercials!


April 16, 2010

Noah's Art, Part II

One of the reasons we love the school that Noah attends is the excellent art and science classes that are available. Noah has loved doing various types of art for some time now, and his art class seems to be helping him find his natural talent. Noah's art teacher had the class do an oil pastel where they modeled their piece after the work of Fred Babb (Google it), but with their own interpretation. You can view and purchase this piece at this website: Artsonia. Here is Noah's oil pastel:

We will start the bidding at three million dollars... ;-)

April 15, 2010

There's An App For That!

My older brother JD's book, Your Money: The Missing Manual, has been on store shelves for about a month now, but I still don't have a hard copy of it. I read on the Get Rich Slowly Forums that the ebook was available for iPhones, so I hopped on my iPod Touch (iCousin to the iPhone) and searched the app store. Sure enough, there's an app for that!

YourMoneyTMMsmall.gif

I have only read the introduction so far, but I'm sure the rest of the book is very well written -- I wouldn't expect anything less from JD -- he's always been a good writer, both technically and creatively. For anyone interested in downloading the iPhone/iPod Touch App, here is the iTunes link to it: YM:TMM App.

JD has been hanging around the box factory the last few days, doing interviews with various radio stations around the country about his book and the personal finance weblog he started, Get Rich Slowly. I have to admit, it's been kind of nice having him around the office again -- it's a lot better now that we aren't trying to run a business together! ;-) I know I probably don't say it often enough, but I'm truly impressed with what the boy has accomplished in the last few years.

April 9, 2010

Lili's Tea Party

Emily's daycare provider, Ericka, has two young children of her own, Lili and Josiah. Lili had a tea party last week, and Ericka got a few photos (click to enlarge).




The whole gang. :-)

April 4, 2010

Sing My Lonesome Away

It was a spur of the moment decision on Friday that introduced us to our newest favorite musician. Our friends Jason & Tawnya had extra tickets to see Five for Fighting at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, with some guy by the name of Matt Wertz as the opener. What we didn't expect was to be blown away by an opening act -- Matt had amazing vocals and a great sense of humor, and the rest of the band proved that they were fine musicians. Needless to say, there was no lip-syncing at this concert!

The song that really hooked us was Sing My Lonesome Away, which was sung with the band gathered around one microphone. The harmonies on the chorus were incredible, and it was a fun way for them to finish their set. Here is the studio version (with random photos of Matt):

If Matt ever comes back to Portland, I will definitely look into buying tickets. In the meantime, I downloaded all of his most recent songs from iTunes, and can't seem to get enough of it. Every time Sing My Lonesome comes on, the kids come running to crank the volume up and dance -- it's one of those songs where you have to move your feet.

If you like Sing My Lonesome Away, you should check out Matt's YouTube Channel, www.mattwertz.com, or iTunes. The entire new EP, While We're Becoming, is excellent, and I also really like Carolina, 5:19, and The Way I Feel -- but I just went ahead and downloaded his album from 2007, Everything In Between.

We went to a concert on a whim, and really enjoyed Five for Fighting as expected, but we have been moved and inspired by Matt Wertz. Give him a listen. :-)

A side note, which may be of interest to JD: Joe Pisapia, producer and instrumentalist on While We're Becoming, is a member of the band Guster, which sings another of my all-time favorite songs, You're My Satellite.