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Drugs Pt.2 – Eat Food that is as Close to as Nature Intended

Eat Food that is as Close to as Nature Intended

Making lifestyle choices with your diet are rarely easy. People make food choices for so many different reasons. And often we do not even think about it. Like why do you buy Skim milk vs Whole milk? Is it Oreos or Chips Ahoy? Do I buy apples or oranges?

These choices reflect preferences, impulses, memories and a whole host of other reasons. And there is a vast difference between an apple picked off of a tree in your backyard and a McDonald’s Big Mac.

In the same seminar mentioned in Pt 1 of this article:

What Drugs Are You On? – Pt.1

the suggestion to the issue about what to eat came in a pretty simple statement:

“Eat food that is as close to as nature intended.”

I thought about this for a long time and it makes sense.

Fruit is good. Canned fruit is good. An apple from the grocery store is better. A farmer’s market melon picked that morning is better. An organic peach fresh picked off the tree and washed with spring water . . .  You get the drift.

We all have to eat. It is about the choices we make when it is time to eat that set the standard for health. For some, it is easy. They choose a specific dietary lifestyle and stick to it.

I am Vegan. I am a vegetarian. I am a pescatarian. I eat gluten free. Sugar free. And it goes on and on.

But the “as close to as nature intended” rule is a wonderful place to start. It puts the choices we make into a ranking. And it helps us consider what level of processing we choose to eat.

What meats do you eat? Is it fast food? Do you buy it at the store? Whole foods or Acme? Is it hormone free? Was it free range or raised in a pen? Did you go out and hunt it, skin it and smoke it by a campfire? Where you live and how close you are to modern amenities (or natural resources) will be a large part of this decision.

What do you snack on? Carrot sticks? A bag of mixed nuts and raisins? Crackers? Cookies? A Snickers? Nacho Cheese Doritos with Queso dip?

What vegetables do you eat? Fresh picked tomatoes from the garden? Hot House tomatoes for $1.00 per pound more at the grocery store? Canned tomatoes? Pace Picante sauce? Ketchup?

I tries to implement a lot of these decisions here at home, with much resistance and indifference. Then, our daughter, who was in about 6th grade, was tasked with reading the book, “Chew on This: Everything you don’t want to know about fast food.” It is the school version of the Book turned into the movie Fast Food Nation. It chronicles the journey of the author who decided that he would only eat McDonald’s food for a month.

For all of my feelings about Common Core education, this was a piece that worked (though I think that it was something slipped in by the teachers who were there before the Core, and saw its value).

Two years later, our daughter still refuses to eat most fast food – especially McDonalds. And while this is not intended to be an attack on Frankenfood inc, it does point out that eating this kind of food is a choice. It has consequences.

For me, the most dramatic diet I have been on is No processed sugar. Seems simple enough until you look at all the foods that have sugar in them. Pretty much ALL processed foods. Bread. Milk. And when I did the diet, I had to add my own restrictions – I do not eat beef. The result, both times on the diet, was weight loss. Was it because what I was eating was more healthy? Or was it that I could not find food to eat when I was hungry. I will write about the details of this diet another time. But it was definitely something to try.

Which brings me back to the drugs we are taking. The point of being as close to as nature intended was to consider the choices we make. And to pay attention to what we are eating. I do not think we are intending to be unhealthy when we open a can of Pringles. They taste good. All the chemicals they add to them were developed for reasons, and your health wasn’t one of them.

Will these “crisps” kill you? Probably not today. Could you make a healthier choice? No doubt.

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What Drugs Are You On? – Pt.1

Back about 8 years ago, I heard a seminar where this question was posed. At that point, people were looking around the room to see who the guilty parties might be. It can be a controversial question, depending on the company of course. But the context was not necessarily about narcotics or recreational drugs.

The seminar was specifically a natural health and diet seminar. And the question was asking about the kinds of chemicals that we were putting in our bodies.

Prescription and Non Prescription Medications

Around this time in my life, I could identify a couple items that I was consuming on a regular basis. I was taking Advil pretty much daily for headaches and joint pain in my knees. I was taking Loratadine antihistimine daily for allergies year round as well as a rescue albuteral inhaler.

Legal Drugs

Then we were asked to take it a step further – past the pill bottles. What else were we putting in our bodies. For me, I drink alcohol socially. I used to smoke cigarettes, but quit back in 1991. This where people asked to consider also any “non prescription pharmaceuticals.” No judgements. But consider it as part of this checklist

Stimulants in our Foods

We drank a lot of soda – Diet Pepsi was our drink of choice. I always tried to stay healthy and not drink anything with sugar. But that means Aspartame and caffeine. And I drank about a pot of coffee per day. And let’s not talk about chocolate.

. . . And What Else Might Be Hiding

Take a step further in diet. What kinds of foods were we eating? Is it Fruits, vegetables and meats? Is it fresh or canned? Prepared snacks? Did we have any idea what was in the foods that we were eating? Are they organic? GMO? How much MSG in your diet? And what about your water? Do you filter it? Is your water source flouridated?

So this is the part of the post where we look forward. And today, it is homework. Let’s answer the questions everyone. What Drugs are you on? This is intended to be an honest assessment of what you are putting in your body. Include:

Prescription Meds

OTC Medications

Illicit Stuff

Legal Stuff

Dietary Chemicals

Write it out for yourself, or share it here. I will follow this up in the next few days with thoughts about my own diet and ideas on what to do about it.



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The World We Want

Part of the reason for creating the garden at our suburban home is to bring us all a little closer to nature.  They are similar to the reasons given by preppers and people afraid of the possibility of a coming zombie apocalypse. And since I read and watch a lot of science fiction and dystopian fiction, I can fall into that pretty quick.

So my thought was to consider what kinds of plants I would need to grow if, all of the sudden, food would become scarce. What would we want. What would we/will we need. It was with this in mind that I was looking into urban gardening.

And let me tell you that researching this has been quite a task in itself. After tomatos, peppers, cucumbers and a couple of herbs, I did not have a clue. So I started the task of googling and found so much amazing information. And as a result, will be growing a whole lot of vegetables that I would not have ever considered. And varieties I could never have guessed at.

And frankly, I love the idea of turning my entire property into a backyard farm. And if 60 percent of it were’s under the shade of trees, I would be doing more.

In Sol Luckman’s book Snooze, he describes the home of one of the main characters as a sort of Urban Farm. They practice “permaculture” where they can grow food all year round. I guess this works in Florida, because here in PA, the snow kind of acts as a deterrent at least six months per year. But anyways, it points out the idea of taking control of your own health and nutrition by growing your own food.

But back to the reason for the garden. Because there was a point to this post when I started it. Life is uncertain. And a look at the political culture of our world today points this out. We have Conservatives who want to protect us. Liberals who want to control every aspect of our lives. And the Neos who just want world domination. In most cases, they are all working against what I would consider to be the most important aspect in life – personal sovereignty.

While it is wonderful to think that we live in a country and a world where our opinion matters, I have seen enough of the political climate to have compete distrust in the power elites – Whether in Washington, Harrisburg, Reading, PA or even our own little Borough of Wyomissing.

I think that as far as government’s go, they would  do well to take the advice of the Rush song Closer to the Heart.

And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones who start
To mold a new reality
Closer to the heart
The blacksmith and the artist
Reflect it in their art
They forge their creativity
Closer to the heart
Philosophers and plowmen
Each must know his part
To sow a new mentality
Closer to the heart
Until then, I will keep my garden going and look to do all I must to keep poor family safe and protected. It is one small step I can take toward creating the World I Want.
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Looking Forward – New Year – New Moon in Aries

April 15, 2018

At 9:57PM EST this evening, the Astrological New Year will commence. This marks an important time with this blog mostly because it is a beginning point. I launched it on February 25th. And though I have added a few posts and some design work, this new year will be its real start time.

This Astrological New year is a time of new beginnings. And its energy, from the Sabina Symbol for 27 Aries, is,

“through imagination, a lost opportunity is regained “

so for the Astrology part of this blog, the message is about moving forward. And for me, the lost opportunity has been from my previous writing blog – BrighterSideNow. It’s intention had been all about positivity. When writing it, all things written had to be positive. Positive thoughts. Positive words. Positive comparisons. It began from the space of the Law of Attraction. By expressing in the positive, my goal was to attract exactly that, positivity. As a writing challenge, it was a hoot. You would be surprised at how much in our lives comes from the negative. This revelation would hit me often as I was writing. And would not even be able to write about it. So while it was a great challenge, it was a little restrictive.

AstroGardens will hold no such restrictions. Everything here is fair game. Each week will start with a Happy Monday. In fact, tomorrow’s will be:

Happy Monday! Today is a new opportunity, another chance, a new beginning. Embrace it!

I will continue to write about and share astrological aspects – including the sabian symbols. I will likely not hold myself to a regiment about it. But when the symbols speak to me, I will be sure to share whatever story comes to me. And I will also be sharing astrological aspects that specifically impact growing cycles. This is a Garden blog you know. And some of this may be important to some of the people who are reading.

And “Looking Forward” posts are to be expected. Here is one. This weekend I was beginning some of my planting. It has been cold. Too cold to put anything in the ground. And there has been snow and frost. Yesterday it was 80 degrees. Today did not get over 42. That is Spring back east. So I am starting seeds on my porch to see what comes of things.

And while looking at what what I was planting, I am most excited for lettuce. I am planning a bunch of different lettuce and leafy greens. I am looking forward to being able to go out each day and pick my salad and make green shakes. The varieties I have include:


Red Romaine

Paris Island Romaine


Slow Boat Arugula

Giant Noble Spinach

Georgia Collards

Swiss Chard

Red Acre Cabbage



If it all comes up, I may be in trouble come the end of May. But I know a little grocery store and Organic Market stand within a mile that may be able to sell some. We will have to see. But they definitely could be an opportunity.

It is 9:30PM now. I will finish my cup of dandelion tea. Then I will be going outside soon to light a sage smudge and welcome in the New Year.

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Garden Astrology – The Almanac


Do you read the Farmer’s Almanac?

2018 Harris Almanac

If you don’t do you know anything about it?

Starting at the beginning of my 2018 Harris Farmer’s Almanac, the first line to its readers:


“Truth is indeed stranger than fiction” –Harris Almanac 2018


And in reading the Almanac, you find this to ring true. On the one hand, annual almanac is like the Reader’s Digest – with short articles about the weather, gardening, recipes and the like. Who doesn’t want to know about weather patterns in southern Iowa or bugs in South Carolina or how to make bread without a bread machine. Some are articles about wisdom from bygone days. Others are just trivia. Intelligent conversation starters that can be brought up while waiting in line somewhere.


But the articles are just window dressing. The real nitty gritty of an Almanac is the calendar. Especially before the Internet, sources were needed for people to be able to track cycles and events throughout the year. You have your calendar on the wall. The Almanac told you about what happens each day.


Is there a Holiday or special observance?


What is the phase of the moon?


How long is each day? Sunset? Sunrise?


What kind of weather are we expecting this month? (Can’t be any less accurate than the evening news here)


In American Culture, the most well-known Almanac was Poor Richard’s Almanac – published, written and sold by Benjamin Franklin. It is known as the place where he offered pithy, meaningful quotes. I will share them from time to time on this blog, as they often have great advice, and are funny as well. The quote for today:


“Lost Time is never found again.”

― Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack


Reminds me that I have not written enough for this blog and need to get to it.

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Transforming our Yard into a Garden

Transforming our Yard into a Garden

Since we moved into this house 20 years ago, we have had gardens. In fact, the gardens around the yard were something that we marveled at from the beginning.

We chose this house and moved in in the winter time – February and March. We could see lawns, borders, trees and bushes. But that was about it. The real makeup of our yard only revealed itself in the coming of the spring – around about April here in Eastern Pennsylvania.

What we found was a wealth of annual plant life and some wonderfully designed gardens on the back and side yards. There was a White Hydrangea, two beautiful Peony bushes, gardens bordered with Hosta and a couple Azaleas.

Other than a few rose bushes along the side, and a Lilac bush in the center of the back lawn, we have left the planters pretty much alone. We have planted flowers and groomed the bushes.

The other unfortunate aspect of the property is the large trees. We live on a tree lined street with a beautiful canopy of Lindon trees. The affect in the summer is that our street feels like a tunnel. It keeps the street 10-15 degrees cooler, which is also a plus. However, Lindon’s are messy. They drop stuff throughout the year. And the shade, while beautiful, blocks out the sun in front to the point where not even grass will grow effectively. And other than bushes, the only flowers we can plant are impatiens.

The back yard has another feature that limits what we are able to do. Right behind the house is a huge Mulberry Tree. During the month of June, the yard is a mess with rotting mulberries and bird and squirrel droppings.

From the first year, I began planting a small patch in the back lawn – the SouthEast Corner. We have planted what most backyard gardens have – tomatos, beans, cucumbers, zucchinis, peppers and the like. Sometimes we will add something different, but usually it has been just run of the mill.

Where are we going in 2018

As the point of this blog, I am expanding the gardens to grow food and herbs in the available space on our property. It came as an inspiration last year when I really wanted to be planting a bunch of herbs but did not have the time to do it since it was late in summer.

So, this winter, I began to plan out how to gain more space. In the hand drawn diagram above, you can see where I plan to plant. Much of this will require a lot of work, including turning soil, removing bushes and repurposing existing garden spaces. This blog will show it all – and offer as much advice as I can learn along the way.

In future posts, I will explain some of my thoughts and scratched from my sketch.

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My organic garden

Talk about planning ahead. I have been incredibly lax in my gardening of late (hell it’s been a couple years since I have done anything worthwhile). And this is with the flowerbeds as well as the vegetable patch. Whether it has been due to time or money, there has been little I have done outside.


That is not to say I haven’t had grand plans and dreams about it either. I always think that this will be the year I get tomatoes in by April or feed my plants regularly or have funds to buy the basics when they are needed. So many excuses. I can’t plant or mow in the rain. I am busy running around this week. I hate trimming those damn bushes and I do not have yard waste bags. It could be any excuse.


So, I have decided that this year I will plan out a garden and get serious about planting the things I want. And what better way to make myself do it than to share it online. There was a movie a few years back called Julie and Julia that told the story of a girl who did something similar with Julia Child’s Cookbook. She decided that she would go through the cookbook and make a recipe each day – and then blog about the experience. Well this will be a Garden Blog of the same sort.


And how will this work? I will be writing each day about my plans and about the progress I am making. There will be pictures of everything and open for commentary from anyone interested in taking part.

So for now, Keep reading and thank you for being a part of this.

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A Million Dreams – A Resolution for 2019

Every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.

– “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman


Many people make New Years Resolutions. These are plans to improve themselves within the next year. For many, it becomes cliche as people often make them and break them as soon at the year begins.

These could include losing weight, quitting smoking, quitting drinking, being a better worker, make more money.

All may be good ideas, but it relies on follow through.

For me, I do not usually make specific resolutions. I do like to assess what has happened and make goals for how I would like to see the next year go forward.

For assessing the last year, I read a very interesting way of doing it from blog-god and author Tim Ferris. I am including it below as he shared it, because it is a great assessment.

For next year, I cannot express it any better than the song A Million Dreams as seen above. We are amazing creatures living here on this planet earth. And our minds have endless potential. Its about putting those dreams into action.

So I say, keep dreaming and keep making those dreams come true.

Happy New Year!


Tim Ferris’ New Years Resolutions

Im often asked about how I approach New Year’s resolutions. The truth is that I no longer approach them at all, even though I did for decades. Why the change? I have found “past year reviews” (PYR) more informed, valuable, and actionable than half-blindly looking forward with broad resolutions. I did my first PYR after a mentor’s young daughter died of cancer on December 31st, roughly eight years ago, and I’ve done it every year since. It takes 30-60 minutes and looks like this:

  1. Grab a notepad and create two columns: POSITIVE and NEGATIVE.
  2. Go through your calendar from the last year, looking at every week.
  3. For each week, jot down on the pad any people or activities or commitments that triggered peak positive or negative emotions for that month. Put them in their respective columns.
  4. Once you’ve gone through the past year, look at your notepad list and ask, “What 20% of each column produced the most reliable or powerful peaks?”
  5. Based on the answers, take your “positive” leaders and schedule more of them in the new year. Get them on the calendar now! Book things with friends and prepay for activities/events/commitments that you know work. It’s not real until it’s in the calendar. That’s step one. Step two is to take your “negative” leaders, put “NOT-TO-DO LIST” at the top, and put them somewhere you can see them each morning for the first few weeks of 2019. These are the people and things you *know* make you miserable, so don’t put them on your calendar out of obligation, guilt, FOMO, or other nonsense.

That’s it! If you try it, let me know how it goes.

And just remember: it’s not enough to remove the negative. That simply creates a void. Get the positive things on the calendar ASAP, lest they get crowded out by the bullshit and noise that will otherwise fill your days. Good luck and godspeed!