Shopping at my food co-op

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What it looks like to shop from the bulk bins at my food co-op! I was cleaning the fridge & starting pulling jars out & thought I’d snap a photo. The awesome thing about shopping this way is it’s both budget & eco-friendly, my favorite combo! Some of these jars I’ve been using for years, and it makes me very happy to know how much packaging I’ve saved. Mason jars are an easy find, and I pick up jars at rummage sales, and occasionally buy a new one here & there. The last 2 plastic containers I have are for sugar & flour, and I have large glass jars on my next shopping list to get rid of those- I believe my kitchen will be close to 100% plastic-free after getting rid of these.
In the photo–100% organic: raw sugar, flour, brown rice, garbanzo beans, black beans, cocoa powder, almonds, hemp seeds, mung beans, sunflower seeds, quinoa, oats, maple syrup, tamari, basil, parsley, oregano, taco seasoning, curry powder, chili powder, lemongrass, sunflower oil. This is maybe 1/2 of the jars I refill at my co-op, which carries over 300 bulk items, and is a tiny co-op in a town of 500 people. Stuff comes in 25-50# bags, goes in a bulk bin. I bring my empty or partially empty jar (we do have bags & containers for those who don’t have their own), weight it, fill it & weight it again with the price/#. Some things seem like they’re expensive- parsley is something like $25/#, but to fill a Mason jar costs ~$2.00. I LOVE shopping this way, and can’t imagine life without my co-op!!!!
UPDATE: those last few plastic containers you see in the above pic were finally swapped out for 2 gal glass storage jars. I now have 0 plastic storage!!

Redmond Trading Company Review: Real Salt, Season Salt & Bath Salt

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Review of Redmond Trading Company Real Salt, Season Salt & Bath salt. The following are my experiences with these products, of course, results always vary!

”Real” Salt… I had heard of this before & thought “what the heck is Real Salt”? You can tell just by looking at the shaker that it’s different than any salt you’ve had before.  Real Salt is mainly white like traditional “table salt” but has flecks of brownish-red tints in it too, due to the wide array of minerals present.  It definitely tastes like the salt most of us are used to, but is more complex too—you don’t taste ‘just’ salt. What makes this salt real? Product info from their website: “It is unaltered, straight from the earth as it was deposited centuries ago.  When you remove the trace minerals that used to accompany sodium chloride, you typically get a bitter flavor that many producers try to mask with chemicals or even sugar. (Go ahead — grab your salt shaker and read the ingredients. See any dextrose? Yep, that’s sugar!)  Even worse, when you consume chemically treated or de-mineralized salt, your body’s mineral balance doesn’t always respond gracefully. When people started consuming chemically altered salts 100 years ago, we started seeing high blood pressure and water retention that had never been associated with salt before. Interestingly enough, our customers tell us these are the same problems that go away when natural salt replaces “table salt” in their diet. In other words, salt can be bad for your health, but real salt is actually a crucial part of good health! That’s why, more than 50 years ago, we named our brand Real Salt: Your body knows the difference between what is real and what has been chemically altered. Real Salt is salt exactly the way nature made it.  You can taste the difference on your tongue, and you can feel a difference in your health.” Neither my husband or I are struggling with high blood pressure, thankfully, but  I have indeed read both numerous testimonials of people lowering their blood pressure after switching to Real Salt.

In addition to Real Salt, Redmond also makes a fabulous line of Season Salts. The Season Salt contains a delicious blend of Real Salt as a base, plus: organic onion, organic coriander, organic mustard, organic black pepper, organic paprika, organic celery seed, organic turmeric, organic parsley, and no MSG. ($4.92/4.75 oz.). Now that we’ve been using this for a couple of months we’re wondering what we did without it?! At one time in our lives we actually used Lawry’s Season Salt, and there honestly is NO comparison. The organic Season Salt has been a wonderful accompaniment to every meat and veggie dish we’ve tried it on.  I really, really like it myself but my husband does not hardly eat anything without it anymore. A shaker of it resides on our table instead of the traditional salt & pepper you’ll see on most families tables. I’ve even seen him put it on buttered toast… I brought this Season Salt in at my food co-op along with my order of Earthpaste & Redmond Clay and have had several people tell me they are in love with it also.

They also make an onion & garlic salt. While we love the blended Season Salt & put that on just about everything, sometimes I like a simpler salt to accompany lightly sautéed veggies, which we have at just about every meal. We just finished asparagus season & my favorite way to prepare that was with just a bit of olive oil & either the Garlic or Onion Salt. Sweet potato (yam) fries are also one of my favorite quick, easy, delicious side dishes, and they’re wonderful tossed in a bit of olive oil & dusted with the Garlic Season Salt, and I add just a dash of red pepper flakes as well to give them an additional little bite- they’re SO good! Everyone has their own favorite seasonings of course, and I love that Redmond offers this variety. You may be aware that salt is not a product that can be certified organic, but Redmond’s line of Season Salts is indeed USDA certified organic—how’s that?!

Why salt cannot be certified organic By definition Organic means “once living” or “carbon based” and salt neither is, nor was, technically, either of these.   Because of this definition, in the USA salt cannot receive an organic certification from the USDA.  That said, there is an organization called the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) that certifies items as an “organic ingredient” even though the item itself cannot be defined as organic.  When items are “OMRI Listed” they can be used as an organic ingredient just as if it were USDA organic.  I know that sounds confusing, but that’s just the nature of it.  The good news is that Real Salt is OMRI Listed which means that they can be used as an organic ingredient even though it is not organic (because it was never living nor is it carbon based).  There are some foreign companies that list their salt as organic because they don’t follow USA regulations, but these are few and are dropped as soon as they are discovered by the feds. As an example, because Real Salt is an organic ingredient per OMRI, we can use Real Salt as the base ingredient and mix it with other Organically Certified herbs and spices to create a USDA Organic Seasoning Salt line (even though they are mostly salt which is technically non-organic).    There are lots of sizes to choose from in each category, and I feel the prices are very reasonable. The larger size shaker of the salts last many, many months: coarse salt with grinding mill, refill pouches, kosher salt, powder salt, organic season salt, organic garlic salt, organic onion salt, and many bulk & gift box options available. http://www.redmondtrading.com/product-category/real-salt/

Another salt product offered by Redmond Trading Company is bath salt, a product new to me until I received a sample from them. As we recently did away with our shower in favor of a claw foot bathtub, something I’ve always wanted, it’s been an excellent opportunity to test out their Bath Salt Plus.

What is special about the bath salt? Info from the ‘About’ section of their website: Redmond Bath Salt is a natural mineral sea salt that comes from a sea bed dating back thousands of years. This prehistoric deposit has been tucked away, protected from modern-day pollution. We extract this salt from deep within the earth, and bring it to you in its pure, natural state–without any additives, chemicals, or heat processing. The result is an all-natural sea salt, rich in trace minerals. In Redmond Bath Salt you will find an abundance of trace minerals that can help restore mineral-deficient bodies back to good health. Through osmosis, toxins are released from the body into the bath water, while trace minerals from the sea salt are absorbed through the skin.

Redmond Bath Salt is great for: •Soothing Stiff, Sore & Aching Muscles •Detoxification & Cleansing •Improving Circulation •Promoting Sound, Restful Sleep •Remineralizing the Body http://www.redmondbathsalt.com/benefits/

What is the difference between Redmond Bath Salt and Epsom Salts? Epsom salts are refined salts made up of magnesium sulfate, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Not only does Redmond Bath Salt contain a natural source of magnesium, it also has numerous other trace minerals that benefit your body in so many other ways.

What is the mineral content of Redmond Bath Salt? Redmond Bath Salt Plus is 100% natural mineral. We don’t add anything to it. The main mineral, of course, is sodium chloride (salt), and there are more than 60 other trace minerals that make up this powerfully-effective bath salt.

Obviously, there’s no way for me to know for sure how many toxins I’m releasing by taking a bath with the bath salts, or how many minerals I’m uptaking, but I can share this recent experience with you. I recently received a leg massage from a masseuse in an attempt to help induce labor as I am overdue, and while massaging my legs she commented on how excellent my in & muscle tone were & that she noticed the lack of toxins under my skin that she often felt with clients. Yes I eat a largely organic, healthy diet which is definitely responsible for that as well, but I immediately thought of the bath salts that I’ve been enjoying 2-3 times weekly in my bath. I can tell you that they make for an incredibly relaxing bath, and I have no doubt that my body is benefiting from this product!

Here are the links to the website & FB pages of Real Salt where you can find tons of other useful info, and personal testimonials from others using these products. I always appreciate others who are using these products to add your opinions to the discussion by adding your testimonial in the comments below.
*Real Salt website: http://realsalt.com/
*Real Salt FB page: https://www.facebook.com/realsalt Earthpaste & Redmond Clay are also part of the fabulous product line made by Redmond  Trading Company. As they are all very unique products I’ve divided my reviews on them up. They also each have their own FB pages, which are linked to in their reviews.
*Earthpaste Review: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=677690208913289&set=a.568349859847325.144572.397517646930548&type=3&theater
*Redmond Clay Review: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=687531201262523&set=a.568349859847325.144572.397517646930548&type=3&theater
*Redmond is offering 15% off through September 7 using the code EcoSummer15 (case sensitive)

Redmond Clay Review

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Review of Redmond Clay (AKA bentonite clay) from The Redmond Trading Company, based in Herber City, Utah. The following are my experiences with Redmond Clay, of course results will vary. Always seek advice from a trusted medical professional before starting any new internal treatment. I appreciate it if those of you who have experience with these products (or bentonite clay in general) add your input by commenting on the ways you’ve used it as well.

This is a product I knew nothing about until a few months ago, and it has quickly become one of those products I will never do without again. My goal is to have as few products that serve the greatest number of uses in my home as possible- both an eco- & budget-friendly solution. Things like vinegar, castile soap, baking soda, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar are staples in my house, and Redmond Clay is now on that list. It is a product that has been used for thousands of years by those native to the areas it is found. I LOVE discovering new (to me) products such as this, and appreciate the chance to share this info with others!

Here are the ways I’ve used it thus far: it is AMAZING for bug bites. We had a late start to bug season here in Wisconsin with an exceptionally cool spring (a blessing for this pregnant mama), but as I live on the banks of a river it’s just a matter of time before the mosquitos get horrendous, and that time has arrived. The gnats have also been exceptionally bad and while they’re more of an annoyance than anything they can bite & some (my husband) get a nasty welt from them. I try to spray my toddler down as much as possible when I know we’ll be outside for any length of time, but we find ourselves running out for a couple of minutes here & there and I don’t always get a chance to spray him. The bugs LOVE my sweet-blooded toddler, and he’ll inevitably get 2-3 bites in a matter of minutes and I won’t get any. It took me awhile to remember to try the bottle of 1st aid ointment (hydrated clay) I had sitting on the shelf, but I am so glad I finally did and it is now my go-to as soon as I see a bite. If left untreated his bites will swell up to huge, red welts in no time & obviously bother him as he itches them. Now when I see a bite & apply the ointment immediately it never develops past a tiny little bite- no redness, no swelling, and no itching. A small little red mark is left behind, and over the course of the last few weeks he looks like he’s healing from chicken pox, but none of them seem to bother him after the initial bite and application of the clay.

Then it was hubby’s turn to try it. He was outside shirtless working on his car one recent evening & came in itching all over. He had gotten attacked by gnats & had no less than a dozen bites that were starting to swell up immediately. He knew I had been raving about the clay working on our toddler, so went & grabbed it & had me apply it to his many bites. I like trying out products on him as he’s able to voice real feedback, where with my toddler it’s just what I can observe as I don’t get a real opinion out of him. I waited a few minutes & asked hubby what he thought & he said “it works!” The itching, redness & swelling was instantly gone. The clay dries quickly on the bite & seems to absorb the venom responsible for the symptoms. Since then my husband has come to me numerous time with the tube of paste in his hand, as the bugs always seem to bite the spots he can’t reach. For some reason, the bugs haven’t bothered me nearly as much as my son & husband, but I have put it on a few spots that I had been itching for a while and were starting to turn into wounds and it helped heal them up very quickly.

Here’s the other instance I used the clay last fall: I suffer from a seasonal skin affliction where my hands shed like a snake- usually during the transition from fall to winter, or during the depths of winter. The two winters that I’ve been pregnant (this being one of them), the symptoms have been tame compared to some winters, but I’ve been dealing with this for years. No sooner had I said to my hubby that I thought I was going to get through this winter without it happening, then it started to happen on one hand. It starts as itchy/burny red bumps all over the palm of my hand, and then patches start peeling off and I end up with raw spots on my palm and finger tips. I can’t say I’ve tried everything, but I’ve tried numerous, numerous products: bag balm, crack cream, prescription hydrocortisone cream, hand salves by many companies, and in my recent more natural years, coconut oil, Shea butter, jojoba oil, the list goes on. Nothing really helps but time. I has just received my lovely sample package from Redmond & there was a 1st aid cream in there with the following suggested uses: burns, cuts, abrasions, insect bites, bruises, rashes, bee stings, blisters, poison oak & ivy, dry & itchy skin. Then I looked down at my hand which was raw & peeling and thought “what the heck, I’ll try it”. I applied it 3-4 times that day, and I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say I woke up the next morning & new skin was growing! I seriously couldn’t believe it, and you have no idea how thrilled I am to have found something that works. Within a couple of days, my hand was completely healed up!! I REALLY wish I had taken a before & after photo, but I had no idea the results were going to be so drastic, or that it would even work. I’d say I’ll take a picture next time, but I really don’t think there’ll be a next time as I’ll start using it preemptively next fall when I feel symptoms coming on. It is so exciting to find all-natural, simple remedies that are incredibly effective!

Redmond sent me a container of their clay in its dry, powdered form, a tube of hydrated 1st aid ointment (purified water, bentonite clay), and a bottle of baby powder (bentonite clay) to have on hand with my soon-to-arrive bundle of joy. It’s convenient to have the hydrated bottle of 1st aid ointment for a super quick application, and I plan to leave a tube of it in my purse and/or diaper bag. The baby powder is solely the dry powdered clay in a baby powder bottle, so you can just as easily have a bulk tub of the clay around, but again it’s convenient to have it in the bottle with the fine holes on the top for nice even distribution. As I’ve said, I’m a product minimalist, so once these products are used up I will likely just keep a bulk container of the clay around for its many uses. I recently opened an account with Redmond Trading Company for my food cooperative and one of the 1st things I ordered other than Earthpaste was the 6# bulk tub of clay that is now available for people to buy as much or little as they want at a time. I truly believe it’s one of those products no medicine cabinet should be without! The prices are very reasonable too, in my opinion- here’s a link to the page with the various clay products & prices: http://www.redmondtrading.com/product-category/redmond-clay/

So, those are the ways I’ve used it thus far. As I’m now aware of its many uses I’ll surely be using it for more & more ailments and will update this review and all of you with my new experiences using it.  Either my husband or I usually manage to contract poison ivy at least once a summer, so I’ll be very happy to have this on hand to try should that be the case. My 1st born has had one diaper rash in his 2+ years, but I know that this would be a fabulous diaper rash remedy also. There are SO many ways to use this product, here are just a few I found in addition to the ones already mentioned: face mask, detox bath, oral health (it’s the main active ingredient in Earthpaste made by this company also), mastitis, morning sickness, internal cleansing, and the list goes on & on. For more uses just Google ‘uses for bentonite clay’ and you’ll find lots of articles with suggestions.

Now, about the clay itself. Whole books have been written about this clay, but I’ll try to just hit what I feel are the most important points, and leave it to you to do further research if interested. From Redmond’s website: “Redmond Clay™ remains as pure today as it was when the Fremont Indians discovered its uses long ago. As our world returns to more natural lifestyles, more and more people keep Redmond Clay in their medicine cabinets, first aid kits, and purses. Discover for yourself the healing benefits of Redmond Clay.

How does Redmond Clay work?

At a molecular level, Redmond has a negative electrical charge, attracting positively charged toxins. The formation of bentonite resembles tiny business card shapes, with negatively charged wide surfaces and positively charged edges, providing a surprisingly high surface area and powerful drawing effect. As most toxins are positively charged, clay naturally rids the body of toxins as it pulls and holds the toxins into its core. With a pH level of 8.7-9.8, Redmond Clay is quite alkaline and has proven effective in neutralizing heartburn, reflux, and upset stomachs. Recent research has renewed interest in the internal pH levels of our bodies. Our bodies carefully regulate the pH level in our blood, and there is preliminary evidence suggesting that drinking alkaline mineral water may help prevent bone loss. Many naturopathic professionals have started recommending high alkaline diets as a means of improving long-term health, and Redmond Clay customers report a variety of benefits with regular consumption. Minerals are essential to the chemical reactions that keep our bodies healthy, and our bodies can absorb but not create minerals on their own. As modern diets have become less mineral-dense, many health-conscious people have turned to trace mineral supplements to keep their bodies functioning properly.

Why clay and salt (they are the makers of Real Salt also) cannot be certified organic

By definition Organic means “once living” or “carbon based” and clay and salt neither is, nor was, technically, either of these.   Because of this definition, in the USA clay and salt cannot receive an organic certification from the USDA.  That said, there is an organization called the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) that certifies items as an “organic ingredient” even though the item itself cannot be defined as organic.  When items are “OMRI Listed” they can be used as an organic ingredient just as if it were USDA organic.  I know that sounds confusing, but that’s just the nature of it.  The good news is that Real Salt and Redmond Clay is OMRI Listed which means that they can be used as an organic ingredient even though it is not organic (because it was never living nor is it carbon based).  There are some foreign companies that list their salt as organic because they don’t follow USA regulations, but these are few and are dropped as soon as they are discovered by the feds.

Redmond Clay Mining Process

 The Redmond Clay comes from a surface deposit that is above the Real Salt deposit.  That said, the section of the deposit that the Redmond Clay comes from is a vertical wall so it is completely protected from runoff. Also, because it is a vertical wall, has very little exposure even to rainfall (which in our area averages less than 15 inches per year).  Additionally, when we go to the deposit to extract material, we scrape off the exposed layer on the vertical face and discard it as well as the top 10+ feet of earth/clay before collecting the newly exposed material and take it to the mill for grinding.  As with Real Salt, the only process the Redmond Clay goes through is crushing and screening before we package it.

As I’ve mentioned, there is tons & tons of info on this clay, how it works, its benefits, etc. I just want to provide an overview and will leave it up to you to do further research. Redmond’s website is full of information, and of course so is Google. Below I’ll share a link to my Earthpaste review, which is also made by Redmond. If you have any questions please ask, I may be able to answer them, or can direct them to the VERY knowledgeable, extremely nice folks at Redmond who have been amazing at answering any & all questions I’ve had! And, as the above testimonials are just mine, I highly suggest you to go to the FB page of Redmond & read the amazing feedback in their ‘posts by others’ section!

One final bit of great news is Redmond has created a coupon code just for this page! Redmond is offering 15% off through September 7 using the code EcoSummer15 (case sensitive)!!

Website: http://www.redmondclay.com/
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/redmondclay?ref=br_tf
Earthpaste review: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=677690208913289&set=pb.397517646930548.-2207520000.1372617275.&type=3&theater
Real Salt, Season Salt, Bath Salt Review: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=691161900899453&set=pb.397517646930548.-2207520000.1373294367.&type=3&theater

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