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Boiling my Garbage

Posted by tinako on March 14, 2012

My husband once told me that he and his friends used to make fun of one of their moms who would freeze her garbage.  This sounded ridiculous until he explained that she was freezing food scraps in a bag so they wouldn’t stink up the trash can, and then would throw them away on trash day.

But I can’t help thinking of this story since I have begun boiling my garbage.  The short story is that I’m making never-ending soup stock.  I’ve just started keeping my smallest pot in the fridge, lid on, and any vegetable trimmings that aren’t spoiled go into it right off the cutting board.  It gets peelings, ends, and even the pulpy centers of peppers, and don’t forget the onion skins.  I typically fill this little pot every day.  When it’s filled, I cover the trimmings with water, simmer an hour, and then let it cool.  I drain it into a plastic container with whatever stock I already had.  The soggy trimmings then complete their detour into the compost bin.  If you’re going to keep adding stock to an existing container, of course you’ll want to make sure to use it all up frequently so you don’t have a mix that’s getting older and older.

The long story: I’m not only doing this to reduce waste and save on purchasing stock, since after all the cooking gas isn’t free.  I’m also doing it to try to cut down on salt.  The bouillon paste I use, Better Than Bouillon, is awfully salty.  Despite my pretty healthy lifestyle, my blood pressure has been climbing for a few years, and I’m consistently in prehypertension now, in the 120’s over whatever.  The word prehypertension sounds like something you don’t need to worry about yet, but a Dummies book I read said it would be better called “lower risk hypertension.”  It’s still hypertension, it still does damage, it still increases risk of heart attack and stroke, just not as much.

After reading the book, I bought an automatic blood pressure monitor and have started tracking some things I think might affect my bp: sleep (snoring husband), exercise, meditation, alcohol/caffeine, and salt.  Too little data to comment yet.  I read that vitamin D deficiency may affect bp, so after several years of failing to bring my D up with vegan D2, I did a 45-day trial with some vegetarian D3.  It certainly brought up my D3 levels, but it didn’t make any difference in my bp, so I’ve returned to the D2.  There are other things that affect bp, such as obesity or lack of fruits/vegetables, but they don’t apply to my situation.

I eliminated most prepared foods, a huge source of sodium, from my diet years ago.  This past few weeks I’ve been able to cut way back on the salt I use in cooking, and while my family often adds salt at the table, I don’t miss it.  I made Lentil Soup last night without salt; I used my stock instead of water and some diced tomatoes instead of tomato sauce; I thought it was great.  I’m not planning on being an anti-salt fanatic, especially if it doesn’t turn out to affect my bp readings; but why not adjust my taste buds to a healthier habit?

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4 Responses to “Boiling my Garbage”

  1. Excellent! I boil and compost my “garbage” too 🙂 Can’t say I’ve ever frozen it though. We’ve reduced household waste to the point that our garbage bin is now dumped about once every two months.

    Absolutely agreed about salt. Processed foods are filled with unnecessary salts, sugars, and other chemicals, and the processing removes a lot of the nutrition. Making our own foods takes a few minutes longer, but both the flavor and the health are definitely worth it. And the saved money doesn’t hurt either.

    I read that our bodies make all the Vitamin D we need as long as get about 15 minutes exposure to sunlight each week. That’s so little time that it would probably be difficult to be Vitamin D deficient. Regular exercise brought down my BP, possibly because it helped me to sleep more deeply. I’ve cut out coffee but haven’t cut out caffeine entirely; I still drink tea and eat chocolate for example. My reason for cutting out coffee though was its carbon footprint, and most teas and all chocolate will have a similar footprint – so in time I really should start phasing them out too.

    • tinako said

      There’s controversy about the vitamin D, and I don’t know who to believe. I’m told that here in the Northeast most people are deficient, but then some panel lowered the minimum blood level of total D from 30 units to 20; my doctor says that panel is wrong, but couldn’t give me a logical reason. I’m always in the mid 20’s (except just went to 45 with the D3 supplement), so right between the two recommendations. For the past few years I’ve been just taking the D2 and ignoring my doctor and the low results, but started wondering if it might be affecting my bp and my low white blood cell and platelet counts. But it doesn’t seem to have. My WBC went up but is still low. Obviously I want to avoid non-vegan D3, and while I think it was important to try, I’m not convinced it’s necessary so I’ve dropped it.

      Glad to hear you were able to fix your bp with exercise. I exercise daily but maybe I need more. I have high hopes to find the culprit soon. I only got my new monitor yesterday and so far the readings are normal, averaging 10 points below my dad’s unit (which I borrowed many times over the past three months) and what the doctor was measuring. So either the new monitor is no good, or I’ve fixed the problem already. My dad’s bringing his tomorrow and we’ll compare them.

      • Cool that you’re taking good care of your health. Such widely available health knowledge and diagnostic tools give us great advantages unavailable to previous generations. You’re right though: there are many ways to interpret that knowledge and to use those tools, and it’s up to us as individuals to sort though both the marketing and the recommendations that don’t apply to our particular bodies. For a while now I’ve been happily leaning in a far more holistic direction, and feel much better for it.

  2. […] no difference.  Meditated more, no difference.  I cut out alcohol and tea, no difference (Here’s a post I wrote at the time).  But when I dropped chocolate, for cost reasons?  It dropped twenty points.  Ate it again, up […]

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