Tag Archives: ethical consumerism

Heat Wave Flashback!

21 Jun

It’s the first official day of summer!  What are you doing today?  Biking, hiking, running, swimming, reading, day drinking?  TELL ME NOW!!

I will be back Monday for a full recap of my weekend, but I thought it would be fun to see what we’ve been reading @ SFTS over the years around this time.

1 year ago (2013):


We were celebrating the Supreme Court ruling DOMA to be unconstitutional during the same month as Pittsburgh Pride.  This year,  we celebrated that Pennsylvania has ruled in favor of marriage equality!  We were also trying our hand at container gardening, whelping a litter of the sweetest F1 labradoodles, talking about Pittsburgh food trucks, and learning how to be a more responsible consumer!  Some of the month’s notable recipes were:  Perfect Chicken Burgers and Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Bars.

2 years ago (2012):


More gay pride (don’t you just love June!), but we also started our CSA: Clarion River Organics, hit up Kennywood, the Murray Avenue Grill, and talked about urban recycling issues.

Apparently I didn’t blog during the summer of 2011!  I think that’s when I switched my blog over from The Urban Pilgrim (yes, that’s what this blog was called when I first moved to the big city of Pittsburgh) to what you now know as SOLE For The Soul.  Did you read The Urban Pilgrim?  But seriously, what are you doing this weekend?


5 Tips to Be a Smarter Shopper

13 Jun

On Tuesday, I shared a video with you guys called “The Story Of Stuff” by Annie Leonard.  If you got nothing from the video except thinking about what you buy, how much you buy, where it comes from, and where it ends up – I’ll take it!

I realize that it’s a big trap, the consumption cycle.  You think:  “Okay, well now I feel like complete crap about consumption, but how do I make changes without completely changing my lifestyle?”  Trust me, I’m not sitting here buying ethically sourced bamboo/hemp t-shirts online.  I know I probably should be, but….I don’t exactly have $30 (or more) to spend on a t-shirt.  My goal with sustainability is a practical one – how can I do the best I can with what I have?

So here are 5 tips for you to make purchases with your ethics and values (which are unique to you!):

1.  Local. Local. Local.  Buy local.  Just do it.  Even if you feel compelled to buy some made-in-China crap that is contains toxic materials and will eventually cause you cancer, buy it from a local small business.  Avoid big boxes when and where you can – buying from Target isn’t helping to support and grow your local economy.  By keeping your neighbors in business, it keeps the money you spend in your community.  And most of the time, in the hands of people who have all ready made an investment in that community by opening a business there.  Small business owners depend on YOU – the consumer – to keep them in business and you depend on businesses to keep your neighborhood prospering.  This symbiotic relationship is stronger than you realize.  That’s why corporations do any and everything they can to put small business owners out of business.

2.  Do some research.  Do a Google or Bing search to find out what items are manufactured in your area. You might be surprised.  We are becoming a DIY world and many people are finding ways to turn their DIY passion into a viable business venture.  There are artisans, hobbyists, experts, and producers out there making everything from reusable food containers to soda to brooms.  These people are making things ethically, in their own homes and businesses, using materials which suite their sustainable values.  And guess what – you get to have an actual conversation with them. You get to ask them what they’re about and what sustainable values penetrate their products.  These companies are all ready reaching out to you via the interwebs and social media – many times, you just have to a quick search.

3.  Find products that fall within the spectrum of your values.  My friend Amanda recently posted about an app she uses called Buycott. Buycott allows you to enter values which are important to you:    Then, you can scan products to determine which parent companies owns them and if you find them acceptable for purchase.  Some examples of my filters are “Made in the USA,” “Say NO to Monsanto,” and “Avoid eating toxic artificial trans fat.”  Its easy to let technology do much of the research for you!  However, the best alternative is to buy whole foods from local growers and farmers whom you trust.

4.  If you’re having trouble finding products which don’t contain toxic chemicals or are produced using unethical business practices, get involved.  Stop complaining about it and be about it!  Join a letter writing campaign, a Facebook group, start your own local group – by putting pressure on retailers to provide better options to the consumer, you can produce change yourself.  I recently just read about a group called Mind The Store that does just that.

5.  Reuse.  Find new uses for things, whether it be re-purposing or re-directing it from the waste stream.  Use old coffee filters in your potted plants, compost them, donate old clothing and home goods – more importantly, try to make purchases at thrift stores or yard sales.  Its more fun to find new uses for items and you’re able to put a personal flourish on it!

Living a sustainable life doesn’t have to be rocket science.  The most important thing is to open your eyes and recognize what consequences your actions have:  just because it goes in the garbage and is out of sight, doesn’t mean it should be out of mind.  Be creative.  Be aware.  Be responsible.

SOLE Sloppy Joes

18 May

In the spirit of my last post, I will completely abandon my cookbooks.

Trust me, this doesn’t need directions.

How can the sloppy joe be SOLE food you ask?

Simple.  Organic ground beef, locally made bread, and sloppy joe sauce made right here in the good old state of PA by a family-owned company.

Yeah, if you’re from Pittsburgh you’ve seen their commercial.  Emphasis on multi-generational family-owned business; horrible acting.  Similar to the commercial I recently starred in for Changin’ Time.

“We’ll save YOU a lot of money!”  Okay, okay lets be serious.

Not too shabby.  We got exactly 6 sloppy joes out of this, so the nutrition facts ended up being realistic to actual portion size.  How does this compare to Manwich?  Delgrosso has slightly higher caloric level and slightly more more sugar.  However, it is lower in sodium than Manwich.

Ready for it?

NO PRESERVATIVES and gluten free (I don’t really know too much about gluten, but yay for people who need it!).

See those ingredients?  I know all of them.  And they are located in Tipton, PA.  105 miles away, so yes I would consider that part of our regional foodshed.

Manwhich ingredient list (source): Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Distilled Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Less than 2% of: Salt, Sugar, Dehydrated Onions, Dehydrated Red and Green Bell Peppers, Chile Pepper, Tomato Fiber, Spices, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dehydrated Garlic, Carob Bean Gum, Natural Flavors.

Yeah, 30 calories and a little sugar isn’t going to change my mind now.  I have no idea what most of those ingredients are, let alone what they will do to my organs.

Bonus Fact:  There is a Delgrosso Amusement Park. Randommmmmmmm.

Mock all you want, this sloppy joe is SOLE and so worth it.

Besides, Delgrosso Sloppy Joe Sauce was 10/$10 at Giant Eagle last week.  So this entire meal cost next to nothing.

♥ This meal really is SOLE for my soul ♥

What’s Up With Oil Anyway?

3 Apr

Well, it started with crutons…

They needed tossed in oil.  The instructions I had were vague.

What is the damn difference between vegetable oil, olive oil, and canola oil anyway?

Obviously my first look is nutrition values:

Vegetable Oil has 120 Calories, 14 g of fat, 9 g of polyunsaturated fat, 3 g of monounsaturated fat, and 2g of saturated fat.

This is what I know:

1. Monounsaturated fats can help lower your cholesterol and prevent heart diseasre.

2. Polyunsaturated fats do pretty much the same thing but CAN contain Omega-3s.  (You know, those good things salmon has…blah blah blah).

3. Saturated fat is bad and RAISES your cholesterol, heightening risks of coronary problems and diabetes.

So what are the ingredients in this anyway.  Soybean oil.  Coooool.  Of all the evil things I know about industrial farming, this comes from soybean oil and is probably the most common oil to cook with.

So what about olive oil, which is one of the primary ingredients in my cooking…

120 calories, 14 g of fat, 2 g of polyunsaturated fat, and 10g of monounsaturated fat.

That means olive oil has less trans fat, 7 g less of polyunsaturated fat, but 8 g more of monounsaturated fat.


Gotta love that the primary ingredient is refined olive oils and virgin olive oils.  Purity wins over geographic undesirably.  I also having been hearing a lot from the Mediterranean area regarding food outrage of any kind so…

By the time I’m checking out the canola oil, I’m feeling totally confused.

120 calories, OK that’s the same as the other two; 14 g of fat compares with the olive oil; has 1 g less saturated fat (which, like I said, we know is the bad kind); it has 2 MORE grams of polyunsaturated fat than olive oil; and is high in omega 3 rich monounsaturated fats.

So, we’ll do a quick sum of the fat because that seems to be the first major factor.

Total Fat:

Vegetable Oil: 2 BAD, 12 OK – 14 g total fat

Olive Oil: 2 BAD, 12 OK – 14 g total fat

Canola Oil: 1 BAD, 13 OK – 14 g total fat

Canola Oil wins in both purity of ingredient and in amount of good fats.  And guess what, it can be grown in the United States.

Wait, the ingredients…canola oil.  What the hell is a canola?

Apparently its derived from this purty thing called a rapeseed.

There are some GMO-related issues with canola oil right now though.  Monsanto does own some kind of GMO canola in Canada, which “accidentally” (retarded.) “infected” a neighboring farm.  Monsanto sued the poor farmer who had no control of pollen factors or wind, which easily moved the seeds to his yard.

So what to do?

I think I’m going to switch to canola oil and hawk the shelves for a GMO-free label.  Not sure what I’m going to find – but I’ll let you know when I do.

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