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Life Contains These Things

Archive for the ‘Ethical Eating’ Category

My WellWire Debut Article Is Up!

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See why tea beats coffee here. Would love to hear your thoughts, too. Stay healthy!

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Written by Karla Mercado

September 25, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Must See Health Hub: WellWire

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If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably just like me: a health rookie. We all want to live well, in every sense of the word. The problem really is how exactly to do it.

WellWire Logo

And the secret, really, is precisely what the logo says: everyday holistic solutions. If there’s one thing that has never worked for me, it’s setting myself up for these outlandish goals and eventually punishing myself for not being able to reach them… which has always been the case.

WellWire is a refreshing, new health and wellness site co-founded by two amazing naturopathic physicians, Dr. Nishant Rao and Dr. Igor Schwartzman. They have devoted this great hub for practitioners, patients, health nuts, foodies, and social media junkies to share information and support each other in reaching health related goals; goals that absolutely anyone can achieve. It’s easy, practical, reliable, and trust me when I say that it’s actuallyhella fun. For instance, check out this entertaining article by Dr. Nishant: Superhero Your Vegetables!

I am privileged to be part of this community: I was recently chosen to have a weekly, Gen-Y focused column on the site, and just like I tweeted, “It feels great to see my face plastered alongside these professionals!” (see my newly published bio here. Holler!) So watch out for the column soon; I’m sure you’ll love it. Meantime, hit up the WellWired folks this weekend, and let’s all toast to our health!

Written by Karla Mercado

September 19, 2009 at 3:25 am

Balancing Tenderfoot

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My official health & wellness blog is finally up and running!
Please visit, support and be a guest blogger in
Balancing Tenderfoot!
Here’s to your health!

Written by Karla Mercado

August 23, 2009 at 4:29 am

Got. To. Have. These.

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FAST.

I have scrounged long and hard enough for a store that carries Sweet & Sara products.  Now I know where to find some in good ol’ ABQ.  Woohoo!

Orgasm on a plateBehold… orgasm on a plate.

Sweet & Sara’s Vanilla Marshmallows — 100% gelatin-free, 100% vegetarian and vegan.  And, get this:  they also have it in coconut and s’mores.  Holy freakin’ yum!

Ingredients: cane sugar, water, corn syrup, acacia, carrageenan (gelatenous, red seaweed extracts), cornstarch, pure vanilla extract, locust bean gum, soy protein hydrolysate, oragnic confectioner’s sugar, sea salt

More here.

Written by Karla Mercado

March 11, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Going weed

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It’s been a while since I last wrote about the self-sufficient lifestyle I’m trying, day in and day out, to work on.  I recently became interested in the concept of native plants through various articles and websites, some of which are listed on the sidebar under I Hug Trees & Metazoans.

Growing native plants is very underrated if not widely discouraged these days, when industrial planting is the “practical”, not to mention “aesthetic” way to go.  Native plants are usually considered weeds in most gardening circles and are eventually pulled out.

What is so great about native plants though is that they’re low maintenance, they live long and they’re ecologically beneficial.  Most industrial plants, like our usual indoor flower pots, grass lawns and groundcover, require the right kind of soil, the right kind of place, the right kind of temperature and the right kind of fertilizer and pesticide to survive.

They may look more sophisticated compared to their native cousins, but native plants are known to withstand any kind of weather or creepy crawly it encounters along the way.  Native shrubs and trees encourage different kinds of habitat, from insects to birds, that are actually beneficial to their survival and surrounding area.  Obviously, in my book, these creepy crawlies are always more than welcome.  🙂

I found that growing native plants will largely support that self-sufficient home I wish to cultivate, since not only is naturescaping so energy and ecologically efficient, but there’s also a huge variety of edible native plants out there, from herbs, berries and filling fruits like persimmons to help create a highly non-consumerist home atmosphere.  I also think they’re actually quite pretty, a lot of them even prettier than the industrial plants we’ve become so used to.

Here are some of the native plants that I can imagine cultivating in my backyard:

Native Tree:

Douglas FirThe Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii).  I see a bunch of these in my area, which isn’t a surprise since this native tree is commonly found in spacious, dry to moist soil.  It loves the sun, families of birds and critters, myself included, who love seeing Christmas trees all year round.  Plus, it reminds me of Baguio.  😉

Native Shrub:

Huckleberry EvergreenThe Huckleberry Evergreen (Vaccinium ovatum).  Buds pink, bell-shaped flowers, and don’t you think those berries look so pretty?  Well, they’re edible, too!

Shade Aesthetics:

Shooting StarThe Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia).  These beauties are at their best in spring.  The foliage is just as awesome, but grows dormant in the summer.  The flowers can be white, light pink, or this lovely lilac shade.  It’s obvious why they’re called shooting stars, ey?

For sweet-toothed, music lovin’ creatures:

Wild Sweet WilliamWild Sweet William (Phlox divaricata), and…

Sideoats GramaSideoats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula).

Native plants are known to attract butterflies, bees, and create songbird havens.

Wild Sweet Williams survive best in highly organic soil, and provide sweet nectar to hummingbirds!  The flowers are nicely scented to boot.

Sideoats actually look familiar, don’t they?  I remember seeing a few of these in my elementary school.  We’d play with the seedheads and pretend they’re bigas when we played “chef.”  These are very drought tolerant and provide great feed to birds and small mammals.

I want to start growing native plants as soon as I can.  There are loads of possibilities even here where the weather can be lip-cracking cold and the air thin and dry.  I found a bunch of native plant nurseries in my area, mostly up in Santa Fe, which isn’t a surprise — I remember Santa Fe to be rich in native perennials and herbacious shrubs.  I can’t wait!

Written by Karla Mercado

February 28, 2009 at 1:35 am

Vermicelli, anyone?

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(Written 31 October 2008;  Earl now has his own worm farm)

I’ve always wondered where Italians got that name for this type of noodle.  But this blog is about a totally different topic altogether.

Earl just recently decided to try his hand at vermiculture.  It is basically breeding earthworms to produce nutrient-rich, organic fertilizer.  I think it’s a great add-on to the itty bitty things we wish to do for the environment.

Getting into vegetarianism has opened so many doors for us to tap other related activities that would help strengthen our convictions.  On a personal level, it has also helped us as a couple to discover so many new things that we have in common.

We have pretty diverse beliefs but always with a common ethical and environmental denominator.  For example, I am largely into animal rights, while Earl is into non-consumerism. We’ve constantly discussed topics such as freeganism, bushwalking, organic cooking, foraging and health.  But I noticed recently that we’ve been talking a lot about our desire to become self-sufficient.

We both agree that growing our own food is a great way to contribute to the environment, and at the same time train ourselves to reach that level of independence, which was the kind of independence our ancestors had once upon a very long time ago, way before the dawn of modernity and instant coffee.

Imagine picking herbs, plucking out tomatoes and digging for potatoes just three steps away from your kitchen or maybe even less, depending on where your garden is located.  It’s always fresh and you know exactly how the food on your plate was cultivated and produced, precisely because you grew them yourself.  It also reminds us human beings that we can indeed be strong enough to not have to rely completely on supermarkets and genetically modified onions to whip up an awesome salad.

And so this morning, Earl started telling me about his newfound interest in vermiculture.  Believe me, it’s so fascinating that I wish I could do it myself, but given this tropical climate, breeding healthy earthworms is almost impossible.

There are so many interesting tidbits about this practice.

Did you know that, by breeding your own earthworms, you can actually create different kinds of fertilizer that would address different kinds of plant needs?  In other words, giving your worms a particular kind of diet would correspond to a particular kind of successful harvest.

Did you also know that worms require calcium to produce eggs?  It is recommended that egg shells be a regular part of the worms’ diet to address their calcium needs.  They love curling up in them too.  So cute!

Worms help pick up your garbage.  It’s their favorite meal, so kitchen wastes can easily be taken care of by tending your own little worm farm.

It’s also practically odorless.  Way, way better than your usual garbage bin.

A worm farm is basically a tiny ecosystem, so the breeder shouldn’t attempt to remove other critters that seem to be nesting with the worms — they’re considered helpers.  But centipedes should be evicted, as they are carnivores — they eat baby worms and eggs.  Yikes!

Breeders shouldn’t allow worm bins to heat up past 90 degrees.  It will cook the poor worms — something no one should smell!  Double yikes!

Read more about making your own worm compost system here:  http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Your-Own-Worm-Compost-System

It’s an exciting undertaking and I can’t wait to see how it’s gonna pan out once Earl starts.

Written by Karla Mercado

February 1, 2009 at 3:05 am

More reflections on rabbit food

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I mentioned in one of my previous entries that the vegetarian diet allows more room for efficiency and convenience in a person’s every day life in such a way that most vegetables and fruits are cooked quickly and require little attention in terms of complex condiments and preparation; some can even be freshly picked and consumed raw.

If one were to be a purist when it comes to the premise that a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle encourages the person to move down the food ladder as low as possible because it is physiologically and environmentally advantageous compared to being on top of it, then the idea that this kind of lifestyle is convenient would be betrayed.

Again, I’m experimenting on being a purist here. I apologize in advance for random, confusing or sometimes lazy forms of analysis on the subject.

The umbrella of pursuing the lowest end of the food continuum may be characterized as the person’s attempt to encounter himself in the most ancient of human conditions, which would then translate to a better participation in biologically taking care of oneself and the environment. If this similar back-to-the-land philosophy were to be genuinely and wholly attained through the proposed plant diet precisely because of this diet’s ability to move the person towards the lower end of the food continuum, then up to what extent can a person possibly move down the food chain and still be able to live — and I’m going to use this term loosely so beware — a fulfilled and sufficient life?

Convenience seems to be always the ‘price to pay’ when it comes to achieving some sort of cause or living a certain conviction. Inconvenience seems to be one of, if not the most significant reason for one to not even bother ‘doing what is right and moral’ by his/her own definition, or worse, pursue it but in a ‘settling’, ‘half-baked’ kind of way.

Take for instance, again, being able to move down the food continuum as low as possible. The physiological argument is that the higher you position yourself in the food chain, the more toxins your body absorbs. As you move further down the food chain, the more you will encounter a wider variety of ‘purer’ foods that are more physiologically beneficial.

Next, the environmental argument is that more energy is exerted in producing animal products than the energy used in harvesting fruits, vegetables, seeds and whatnot. The extent of transportation and human labor is more significant in animal food production than non-animal food production. Or so they say.

Which brings me to my next point. If I were to truly work towards contributing to physiological and environmental wellness, then I should also work more and more towards the purest form possible when it comes to food intake.

I would consume the purest of pure food products to benefit physiologically so that my body would be able to function in its best way possible. At the same time, I believe that a lot of energy is also exerted in harvesting plant products, primarily because these processes are needed to quicken a plant’s edibleness.

I would definitely contribute to environmental balance if I allow the plant to naturally come to its edible state without the necessity of man-made processes. Of course, I’m just tinkering with the idea and do not intend to know so much about ecology. I’m not sure how long it’ll take for an inedible plant to eventually morph into its more developed, edible state if most plants do this at all, but it’s a thought, right? And it doesn’t sound convenient at all.

Ah, convenience. Earl and I were just talking about this seemingly trivial topic that it led me to pounding the keyboard for this weird entry. 😛

Written by Karla Mercado

December 3, 2008 at 7:13 am