David Bakke writes about tips for improving health and saving money on Money Crashers Personal Finance.
In 2009, Americans spent almost $2.5 trillion on health care, and that number is expected to almost double by the year 2019. As these costs escalate, it’s obvious that a healthy lifestyle can save you money. But the question is, how much money should you spend to live healthy? Fortunately, there are many ways to cut back on health expenses without cutting back on health benefits.
1. Gym Membership
Unless your monthly gym bill serves as your only motivation to exercise, a gym membership is usually not worth the expense. You can walk or jog in your neighborhood, bike at a local park, and swim in public pools. You can also pick up a cheap set of dumbbells for strength building. In fact, skipping the gym can easily save $500 annually.
2. Organic Food
Organic foods cost roughly 30% more than their traditional counterparts. So if you’re spending the money on organic, make sure it’s worth it and research which are safe to buy conventionally grown instead. For example, some conventionally grown fruits don’t contain as many pesticide residues as others. Whereas conventionally grown apples repeatedly test as some of the “dirtiest” fruits on the market. Avocados, onions, cantaloupes, asparagus, and eggplants should be safe to buy non-organic.
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It is no wonder some yogis these days have acquired rock star status. There are places where yoga enthusiasts eager to deepen their practice can not only take a class from their most praised yoga teacher, they can do it along a backdrop of musical talents such as Ani Difranco, Ziggy Marley, and the Thievery Corporation. As modern yoga teachers join forces with hip and groovy musicians, the old days of dry, serious, and esoteric yoga gatherings make way for the new age, trendy yoga festivals where everyone can feel like a rock star.
Wanderlust, a mind-blowing music and yoga extravaganza, began as a reason to throw a really fun party and invite people who share like-minded ideals such as yoga, the arts, spirituality, environmentalism and sustainability, and organic farming. Husband and wife duo Jeff Krasno and Schuyler Grant put their heads together with their good friend from college, Sean Hoess, and the dream of creating something profound and enlightening became a reality.
Taking place in the gorgeous settings of Vermont, Colorado, California, and Canada, Wanderlust not only combines yoga with music, it also brings in top chefs and wine makers. A typical day might include taking power yoga with Baron Baptiste and then dancing to the trance-like sounds of the Thievery Corporation. Or perhaps you gain motivation from the brilliant karma yogi activist Seane Corn while she shares the stage with poet, composer, and musician Michael Franti. However you choose to spend your day, know that you can also be sipping organic wine and tasting professionally prepared gourmet food whenever the mood strikes.
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Sometimes as bloggers, we write things that we want other people to read, and sometimes we write things that we need to remember ourselves. Sometimes when you are making a change, it helps to say it out loud to someone else to make it more real for yourself. Today, I need to say out loud that I am re-committing to eating local food (Everyone falls off the wagon at some point.) These are eight reasons why you might always want to eat local.
1. Allergies Eating locally made honey is supposed to be good for your allergies because the bees are using the local pollen, what is likely causing your allergic reactions. It is the same theory as a vaccine – if you are given a little, your body learns how to fight it, so you develop an immunity. Plus, you’re much more likely to get actual honey than at a store.
2. The real scoop Often when shopping at farmers markets, you get to talk to the actual farmers to get the real scoop on the types of chemicals were used, where animals reside, and what they are fed. Just because something is labeled organic does not mean that chemicals have not been used.
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Millions of people are planning on buying, giving and eating chocolate in celebration of love on Valentine’s Day. This time of year means big sales for chocolate companies. If you are interested in buying chocolate that supports fair labor standards, as well as those that do not harm the environment or your body, make sure you are well educated as to where your chocolate comes from and how it was harvested.
Of the many types and varieties of chocolate on the market, not all adhere to certifiable fair trade standards, which means there is little concern about the environment or the people who work hard to bring your sweet treat to a store near you. Those that do however will display the words Fair Trade on their labeling, making it easy for the consumer to be aware that they have kept up with the requirements necessary to be certified fair trade.
One notable chocolate manufacturing company that does not flaunt a fair trade certification, however surpassed fair trade standards and brought their harvesting and processing techniques to a remarkably high level of ideals. Kallari, the only line of world-class, certified organic dark chocolate is operated by an indigenous cooperative of organic cocoa growers who gain 100% of the profits for which they work so hard.
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In 2002, a federal law passed that only allows products to be labeled “organic” if they have gone through the USDA certification process, but not every farmer who uses organic practices has the certification. The process is time consuming and also comes with a thousand dollar fee, and some small farmers simply find that the USDA’s program is a bad fit for the scale of their operations.
However, Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) offers farmers and beekeepers a way to assure consumers about their practices. We are frequently warned that the word “natural” is a marketing term used in greenwashing, but the farmers who participate in this program are committed to healthy and sustainable agriculture. “The O-word is forbidden unless you get special permission to use it, so we’re the alternative way to describe what they do,” explains Alice Varon, the executive director of Certified Naturally Grown. “It can be a very convenient short-hand way of communicating about their growing practices.”
There are 800 farms and apiaries located in 47 states that have the grassroots certification. From a consumer’s perspective, produce that carries the Certified Naturally Grown seal is equivalent to that which carries the USDA certification. It’s grown without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, synthetic herbicides or fungicides. Certified Naturally Grown’s standards are based on internally recognized standards. “We’re not trying to define anything radically different,” says Varon.
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