Monday, July 21, 2014

Stop Worrying About "Daily Values" (formerly known as "recommended daily allowance)

Do you really need to intake every known nutrient every single day? Do the federal (United States) nutrition “requirements” hold any water?

The story of my most recent nutritional epiphany is coming up shortly, but first, let’s examine the concept of Daily Value, what used to be known as Recommended Daily Allowance, taking the mineral iron and vitamin C as examples. The Daily Value of iron, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is eighteen milligrams for women. That means that a woman’s body needs to minimally absorb eighteen milligrams of iron every day in order not to develop iron deficiency anemia. The Daily Value established for vitamin C is the amount one’s body needs in order not to develop scurvy. In other words, the Daily Values are those which a person supposedly must absorb every day in order not to develop the deficiency diseases or conditions related to the various nutrients.

There are several problems with these established Values. First, if you are only getting just enough not to manifest symptoms of a deficiency condition, you still may be deficient in a nutrient. Second, note that I am using the word “absorb” rather than “eat” or “consume.” No matter how healthy you may be, your body will never absorb 100% of the nutrients you take in through your mouth.

In fact, some of the numbers are quite discouraging. If you eat meat or eggs, you will absorb only up to 30% of the iron in them. Notice “up to”, meaning depending on you and/or the particular food eaten, you may actually absorb less. Eat a plateful of spinach or other iron-rich plant food, and the numbers are even sadder: you absorb up to only two to ten percent of whatever iron may have gone down your esophagus!

So let’s say you’re looking at a food label that says that one serving of that food provides 100% of the DV of vitamin C. You may have to actually consume two, three, even more servings to absorb all that you supposedly need for that day. If we’re talking about processed foods where synthetic vitamins have been added back, the actual absorption will be even less.

Finally, the Daily Values do not take into consideration individual differences. For one thing, most of the time when you see the percent of DV of iron a food has, the percent is related to a man’s needs, not a woman’s needs (a woman in her childbearing years needs about ten more milligrams of iron per day than the average man).

For another, we all have different body chemistries, and experience different health challenges. I believe I will have to take at least 500 mg of vitamin C (that’s 833% of the DV) every day for the rest of my life because of the deficiencies I have suffered as a child (which have resulted in eye issues – easily strained, get tired after reading for a short while, hypersensitive to the sun, etc.). When a person is under chronic stress, he generally requires a higher magnesium (and perhaps other macro minerals) intake. My body might need less potassium than yours does, but more vitamin D, and so on.

“So, what’s the point of looking at the DV?”

Exactly! There is not a point – unless you want to get stressed about your nutritional intake, which might cause you to become deficient and/or make absorption even more difficult.

Keep in mind, as well, that the honorable people in Washington, D.C. who have come up with the Daily Values and Four Food Groups/Food Pyramid/My Plate diagrams have been influenced by many green pieces of paper handed to them by agricultural lobbyists. It may be possible – it just may be – that the established DV of the B vitamins, of which wheat contains several, has been so established to incite you to eat more bread.

“How do I know if I’m getting enough?”

Ah, now we are getting closer to my story. My favorite way to spot deficiencies is by muscle testing. I describe it thoroughly in my book Crazy Simple, so I’m going to refrain from doing so on this blog. Do on online search for “how to muscle test yourself” for further explanation.

Muscle testing is free, easy, and instant. You simply go through a list of vitamins and minerals and ask your body if you are deficient in any of them. Hair analysis costs, and only tells you how your body was doing four months ago. Blood tests cost as well, and unless you have insurance and are working with a health care practitioner, it will be expensive to find out whether you are getting enough of all the nutrients (I’m not even sure every known nutrient can be detected in the blood).

Besides, blood testing is not always fully accurate. A test I had a little while back showed that I was getting sufficient magnesium. But if I don’t take the supplement, I told the chiropractor who was interpreting the results, magnesium deficiency symptoms (like restless legs) return with a vengeance! (The chiropractor told me to stay on the supplement).

The supplements I take are the supplements that muscle testing has revealed I need. And sometimes, I need less of a certain supplement, sometimes I need more. I muscle test each one at least once a month - some of them, like iron, every day.

Okay, so you have determined your deficiencies. You can try adjusting your diet to eliminate them, or find the right supplement (muscle testing is great here, too – many supplements are subpar, and one supplement that may be perfect for one may not be the best for another).

Then what? How do you make sure that you will continue getting enough of all the other nutrients?
Yesterday (from the day I’m writing these words – and yes, here’s the story), I was begrudgingly eating some white rice with butter for a snack. Begrudgingly because one, white rice isn’t raw but I needed carbs and for some reason my palate wasn’t wanting something as sweet as fruit at the moment; and two, I don’t like butter. I’m not sure why; I used to love it. But ever since I discovered raw coconut oil, butter has given me ever-diminishing pleasure.

I was eating butter from grass-fed cows instead of coconut oil for one reason: to make sure I get enough vitamins A and K. The fat soluble vitamins are essential in order to have healthy teeth, and since I plan never to go to a dentist again unless I have another tooth break thanks to the stupid old mercury fillings my stupid childhood dentist stuck all over my molars, I want to do everything possible to keep my teeth cavity-free.

As I finished the butter, I decided I didn’t want to have to eat it ever again. What else will give me a good dose of those two vitamins? I knew that several greens did, and I headed for my copy of The World’s Healthiest Foods to look them up for the umpteenth time.

Halfway between the plate of recently-eaten rice and butter and the bookshelf where that large, green volume lies, came the epiphany: I don’t have to try to get every single nutrient every single day in order to be healthy. Now, obviously, my body needs some nutrients in large amounts every day, or I could save myself over a hundred dollars a month in supplements. But the other nutrients? I don’t need them every day, or I don’t need “100% of the DV” every day.

How do I figure? What happened at that moment, at that spot in the house, was that I remembered something about dentist Weston Price’s journeys across the world back in the 1930’s. He studied a bunch of different societies that had not yet begun to eat modern food, finding out their traditional diets and whether they had any tooth decay.

The number of cavities he found among any single group was a very small fraction compared to what he was encountering among his patients in the U.S. Very small, like under ten percent of the teeth he studied had cavities. How was this possible? He eventually figured out that besides not eating any processed foods, those peoples consumed dairy from pastured animals, organ meat, and/or seafood at least on occasion. These are the foods that provide the most easily absorbed forms of the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K.

BUT – and here came my epiphany - some of the societies consumed such foods only occasionally, say once a month or even less frequently, or consumed only small amounts each day. They were not consuming anything close to today’s “100% DV” of many nutrients.

What were they doing, the few groups with healthy teeth that were not consuming dairy, organ meats or fish several times a week? They were not eating unnatural foods, and they were eating a variety of natural foods, including – and I must make this point because Dr. Price went out of his way to find a society that was on a pure vegan diet and FAILED – occasional animal-based foods.

Standing in the middle of our Tiny House, I realized that I was still under the brainwashing influence of mainstream nutrition beliefs and teaching. I realized that I - you – have been lied to.

We do not need to get the 100% of the established Daily Value of every single known nutrient every day.

With some nutrients, getting a little bit every day, or even just once in a while will suffice. Which ones will depend upon your individual chemistry and lifestyle.

After receiving this freeing revelation, I muscle-tested it to be sure. Yep. The test confirmed it.

The steps to a nutrient-sufficient diet

1. Get unnatural foods out of your diet; that is, foods that come in any kind of package (the exception being things like dried beans and rice that are sold in bags – they are “whole foods” even though they are packaged).

2. Replace them with nutrient-dense natural foods (the ones you find on the outside perimeter of the grocery store).

3. Uncover any deficiencies and get them turned around.

4. Eat a variety of foods throughout the week.

5. Stop counting milligrams and IU’s of vitamins and minerals. Obsessing over them will not make you healthier.

Besides, there are many other nutrients in foods that remain unknown, and are probably just as important, if not more important, than those that are known. If you can’t obsess over what you don’t know, why bother obsessing over what you do know?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Silence (Mine, Specifically)

I’ve been quiet on this blog lately, and I thought I’d let you in on the reasons so you don’t think that I’ve flaked out and given up on yet another blog. ;)

1. We will have Internet at home in a few months.

On another blog, I talked about my and Jerry’s decision to not have Internet service in our new home. It would save us $20-$30 a month if we just drove into town a couple days a week to check e-mail and do online business.

But as much as I like to say, “I should have been born Amish,” and would like to live in my ideal world where I didn’t need either electricity or the technology that requires electricity, I (and Jerry) have become too accustomed to having the world at my fingertips to give it up so easily. Not only that, but also “everybody else” expects you to be able to check e-mail every day, or get online and do business within an hour. Not having Internet at home while trying to sell our house a few months ago was a Major Pain. Jerry has had to wait until Monday or Thursday to figure out how to get to the airport that is 95 miles away from us in order to pick up…well, that’s a secret for the moment. Heh, heh.

And sometimes, the weather is just so miserable outside and you’re tired of reading and all you want to do is get on YouTube and find some semi-entertaining videos to watch. And as much as I would like Benjamin to get his education the old-fashioned way, some things are much more easily learned via video – like how to make something, or what a breaching whale looks like – than via print media.

So Jerry and I have decided that some time within the next year, we will purchase Internet for our home. (What time, and why not right now is related to the secret mentioned above – don’t worry; I’ll be letting you in on the secret in the months ahead…and NO, I’M NOT PREGNANT.) When we have Internet at home, it will be a lot easier for me to blog. So while I will still publish a post once in a while in the meantime (especially once The Secret is well underway), I’m not going to kill myself trying to keep this blog updated, as well as make Amazon orders, do general research, and answer e-mails, in the short time we are at the local library twice a week.

2. I’m working on my next book.

Writing a book does not always interfere with my blogging, but it always takes priority. And right now, I am at the outlining stages, which requires every ounce of my creative energy, as well as considerable time.

3. I’m tired.

This has to be the most humid summer I’ve ever experienced in my forty-four years (though Jerry, who was raised in central Louisiana, could not make the same claim – anyway, he is not yet forty-four ;) ). I am blessed if I get through a day without completely messing up a meal, breaking a dish, or yelling at Benjamin for no good reason. 

High humidity makes me want to crawl into bed and sleep until it’s gone – and every day from the beginning of May on, except for one that I can think of, the humidity has been above 60%, many (if not most) days above 65%. It’s enough, therefore, for me to be working on a book, let alone trying to get up several blog posts a week.

4. I’m busy.

Partly due to The Secret, and partly due to the fact that I am harvesting an abundance of produce every other day as well as having to keep my 1600-square-foot garden weeded, I have a lot to do these days. Remember, also, that I have a little boy who requires a lot of attention. Remember, too, that I am having to do all this work while being tired.

So please forgive me while I am mostly quiet on this blog for a while. Do click the link on the right sidebar to follow it via e-mail, and come visit whenever you see I have an update. You don’t want to miss out on our family’s big Secret – or my next publication!

Speaking of that, thank you to those of you who have downloaded, read, and reviewed Redeeming Laura. The reviews are at 4.5 stars right now, the first one being a 5-star review which begins, “What a fantastic book!” (Thank you, dear reader!)

If you haven’t read it yet, there’s no time like the present. It’s a reasonable $2.99, as all my books are (my shorter products are even cheaper), and is perfect if you enjoy inspirational romance and/or mail-order bride stories.

Until later,

Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Latest Novel, Available For FREE!

Starting today, going through Monday, July 7, 2014, you can grab a copy of Redeeming Laura, a historical inspirational romance, for FREE. Check it out at

If you like my writing, feel free to tweet and share on Facebook about this promo. Thanks a lot, enjoy the read, and remember to take a moment to write a review of it on Amazon.

Emily Josephine

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Our Food Dilemma

We have a dilemma, my husband and I. We are getting tired of the eating regimen we have adopted out of necessity; that is, having to eat more dried (including grains) and frozen foods because the closest place to buy organic (or at least, chemical-free) food is two and a half hours, either north or south.

We are both sick of grains. I would strongly prefer a mostly raw Paleo-ish diet, but we have been eating grains for lunch, and DH has been additionally eating them for snacks. The only grains our son will eat without complaining are sweet brown rice, oats, and Ezekiel 4:9 bread.

Even without muscle testing, I know that my ideal diet is one that does not include grains – not because of having read any books, although I have, but going by how I feel after eating a plate of grains. Muscle testing does, however, confirm the fact. While I can be healthy eating a limited amount of grains a day, my ideal diet would nix them altogether.

I am also sick of cooked eggs, and all Mr. Picky (AKA our son) wants is sweet things (AKA fruit and fresh milk, at least in this household which is managed by a health nut). The egg issue is easily remedied: I can put raw yolks in my smoothie and toss the whites, like I used to do.

Giving up grains and replacing them with more fresh (not frozen or dehydrated) fruits and vegetables is a bit trickier. We need to start going to the local farmer’s market, but the nearest one is a thirty-minute drive away. I did not move out into fresh air with the idea of adding more pollution to the environment by having to drive more in order to get healthy food.

The long-term plan

Within three years, between the large garden and a small but intensely-managed orchard, we should not have to depend on anyone else to supply us with fresh produce. I even plan, by then, to be growing our own mung beans and lentils to sprout and eat raw in salads.

But three years is a long time. And except for Ezekiel 4:9 bread, DH would rather not continue to eat grains for meals and/or snacks for that long. I dare not even eat the bread, as the gluten gets to me (yes, Matt Stone, even if I eat it every day for several weeks to try to force my body to adapt to it).

Raw milk would be a great substitute for grain (if you can forget how much more expensive the former is), but I cannot tolerate the lactose (yes, Matt Stone, I have tried making my body adapt to that, too - you try being a pre-menopausal woman with a sensitive digestive system).

So, what is a health-conscious family living out in the middle of nowhere to do in order to obtain chemical-free produce?


We have decided to sacrifice a couple of mornings a month, get up super early, and drink smoothies in the car on the way to a farmer’s market. I can keep most things fresh for two weeks; certain items such as stone fruits I can freeze. I don’t mind frozen, as long as it’s fresh when I buy it and I freeze it while it’s raw.

I am never happy about getting into a car and driving so much – our gas bill will go up, too – but I am much less happy with being confined to a semi-vegan, mostly  cooked diet. Besides, it’s only for the next two or three years.

The moral

When you set out to drastically change your lifestyle, you have to allow for a long transitional period. You may have to bend your personal standards, especially if you’re a perfectionist like me.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither has any homestead ever been. I choose to enjoy the relative freedom we have, thank God that wecan afford to do what we’re doing, and bend my rules a little so that we can really enjoy ourselves when we sit down to fuel up. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why I Am Not A Minimalist

All of a sudden, “minimalism” is a hot word around the Internet. New blogs and videos about the concept are popping up every week. You can find several books about becoming minimalist on Amazon.
I, too, have used that buzz word. But I have decided to refrain heretofore.

Well. Before I go on, I suppose I should give a brief definition of “minimalism” for those handful who have yet to encounter the term. Minimalism is a lifestyle philosophy in which you live with only those things which you absolutely need. One might set Henry David Thoreau, during his experiment at Walden Pond, as the quintessential minimalist.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? So, why have I decided to eschew the word?

1. Minimalism is a religion.

Think about it. Most religions end with the three letters “-ism.” Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism.
Okay, so I’m a little bit tongue-in-cheek here. But hang with me while I go through the analogy, and you might actually end up agreeing.

Religions provide a set of rules to follow in order to live a life that makes some higher power happy, and/or that makes you happy. Most specifically deal with how to escape Earth and make it to heaven (I beg my readers not to confuse religion with a relationship with our heavenly Father. They are not the same thing).

Minimalism teaches that in order to be happy, you must get rid of everything you do not absolutely need. No hanging onto clothes that you might wear once in a great while, no more chairs in the house than needed for the members of that household, no keeping your teenage diaries. It teaches you to spend no money unless you absolutely need a thing, to have no clutter about.

What’s wrong with those rules? Nothing, when taken at face value. Nothing, if those rules fit your personal bent. Ay, there lies the rub. Religion tries to make everyone conform to the same set of rules, regardless of individual temperaments, giftings or abilities.

“But I read so-an-so’s blog that said minimalism doesn’t have to mean anything so austere.” That’s because so-and-so isn’t really a minimalist.


Look, if you don’t believe in reincarnation, you’re not really a Buddhist. If you don’t believe premarital sex is a sin, you’re not really a Christian. If you don’t believe you have to pray five times a day toward Mecca in order to please Allah, you’re not really a Muslim. If you have joined any of those particular religions, but changed some of the rules because you didn’t like them, then you basically created your own new religion.

Ditto for quasi-minimalists who…well, now I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s attack that in the next section.

2. The word “minimalism” has been abused and misused.

I am all for sticking to a budget, decluttering, and downsizing anything from a bookshelf to an entire house. But just because you’ve become a decluttering freak doesn’t make you a minimalist. A minimalist by definition is going to have a boring house and, quite frankly, a boring life (at least to outsiders; contemplative people who get a thrill out of meditating all day don’t think such activity boring at all).

The aforementioned Thoreau was a true minimalist – at least, during the period in which he lived at Walden Pond. His house was practically bare, and his only major activity was tending a garden.

If you have an uncluttered house and refuse to buy an iPad, but have a bunch of kids whom you regularly take on entertaining and educational excursions around the city, you are not a minimalist. You are giving your children experiences they don’t absolutely need (and therefore spending money unnecessarily, breaking one of the cardinal rules of minimalism).

If you have only one chair and one fork in your large apartment, but often fly back and forth between the United States and Australia, you are not a minimalist. You do not need to travel (besides, a true minimalist will be trying his best to reduce his carbon footprint).

If you live in a 5,000 square-foot house that is completely void of clutter and has only a couple of pieces of furniture in every room - and you have fewer than eight children, you are not a minimalist. (Five thousand square feet? Come on!)

If you have a well-followed blog because its domain name uses the buzz word “minimalist”, then put together a “simple living” course for which you charge $149 dollars a head, you are not a minimalist. You are the typical exploitive Internet Marketer (a real minimalist is not greedy for gain).

3. God is not a minimalist.

Ever read any books about people who have seen heaven? Sure, probably one or two have made things up to sell a few books. But I have reason to believe that the handful I have read were written by people who have had honest-to-goodness visions of heaven and wrote the books to encourage people of faith about what the future holds for them.

In these books, God does not hold back. He has provided a mansion for everyone who arrives there, and the mansion as well as its surroundings is loaded with accessories, d├ęcor, furnishings, etc., etc., that represent your deepest desires and personal tastes. One author has even seen a heavenly amusement park and movie theaters!

Say the authors of those books have made all that stuff up. Okay, so read the Bible instead. The streets of heaven are paved with gold, the apostle John wrote in the book of Revelation. If the streets are paved with gold, do you really think Father has held back in luxury and lavishness anywhere else?

I’m not suggesting that you go out and get into debt so you can crowd your bookshelves, dressers and side tables with pretty knick-knacks. I am simply pointing out the fact that it is not evil to have things, including things that are there solely to make an otherwise empty corner or space beautiful.

4. Minimalism doesn’t fit many people’s lifestyle goals and/or personalities.

Some women – and men – thrive in a home decorated country style. Ever seen a home like that? Let me give you a hint: there is “stuff” everywhere. The tops of the kitchen cabinets are lined with old-fashioned crocks, jars and dishes, and there will be a sideboard in the dining room packed with all sorts of quaint dishes and other accessories. That’s not to mention the numerous knick-knacks and accessories that will be found in the rest of the house.

If someone wants to dust – or pay somebody to dust – all those things, more power to ‘em! 

Then there are homesteaders. As one of those, I can tell you one of the most important Homesteading Commandments: save everything. While I don’t literally save everything, neither do I throw out or recycle every single supplement bottle or jar, empty milk jug, or piece of junk mail. They often come in handy for a variety of uses. We refuse to follow that minimalist rule of getting rid of “just in case items” – because often, those items turn out to be useful in a few months to a couple of years! And because we did not adhere to the minimalist religion, we did not have to go out and spend more money to buy another thing.

I have dozens of “just in case” flower pots in the garden shed, and row covers that I have not yet even opened. Jerry has a variety of tools. We are not going to get rid of these items because somebody wants us all to live like hermits in a cave.

So, why am I even bringing it up? I – and the others who want to/need to have a lot of things – should simply just not call ourselves minimalists, right? My problem with this facet of the anti-possession religion is that those who think they are minimalists try to make everyone else who definitely is not, look or feel as if she is doing something wrong.

Gee, maybe I should have written all this under the “religion” heading.

The long and the short of it…

I am not a minimalist, and do not want to be part of that camp. I am all for simple living, but that does not need to mean living in a home with mostly bare space, obsessing over the number of things you own, or feeling guilty about how little you may use or enjoy those things.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Small Town Love

I grew up in rural southeast Minnesota, and I have to admit: I didn’t exactly develop any sort of affinity for small towns. The small town where we traveled to in order to attend church services, do grocery shopping, and go to school was a “bedroom” town: most residents worked in Rochester, many at the local tech business or for one of the clinics or hospitals. 

There wasn’t a whole lot of “small town” friendliness I heard about later as an adult. In fact, in the local high school (which, when I was a kid, included grades seven through twelve), sexual harassment was rampant and was not uncovered until I was well out of college. Even before high school, there was a harsh division between the children who lived in the town and those who lived in the country. I remember calling those who lived in the town “townies” in a snide, uppity voice. At the same time, those “townies” looked down on us poor rural kids.

I liked it when we finally moved into Rochester when I was sixteen. It had a different atmosphere, I assumed because there were a lot more people and a lot greater diversity of people. So it was harder to stick out like a sore thumb.

By then, I was already well-jaded against small towns. This bias followed me into adulthood, to the extent that I sometimes wavered about moving to our new location in southeast Oklahoma, where I would have to relate to people in a small town.

Southern/Northern difference?

When I lived in Minnesota, I once in a while heard about how friendly people in the South were. While I certainly have had my fair share of positive experiences of that while living in the Dallas, Texas area (such as perfect strangers pulling over and helping me when I had a tire blow-out), that place is so huge that it’s hard to be anything but just another anonymous face to most everybody else.

Then we took the leap and moved out of the city. Here is what has happened to me in the past few months.

A couple of months ago, I walked into the store that provides our cell phone service to pay our bill. That was our last errand of the day, and we headed home after I paid it. Upon arriving home, I discovered that I had left my change purse - which contained around $200 – at the cell phone place.

I tried to call. No answer. (Yes, ironic, I know.) I drove back into town (not a big deal; it’s only about five miles away) and walked back into the store.

The lady who had accepted my payment was talking to a couple at her desk, but her eyes met mine and took on a knowing glance.

“Please, tell me you have it!” I exclaimed, so desperate not to have lost the money that I didn’t even think about manners.

The lady smiled at me, and held up the little purse. Relieved, I retrieved it and thanked her profusely. I did not count the money until I got home; I knew I didn’t need to. Indeed, every single cent that had been there was still there.

The next series of small town friendliness came out of the insurance agency where we had bought our Oklahoma car insurance. While in the process of selling our house, we needed access to a fax machine, copy machine, and somewhere to sit down with the mobile closing agent and sign papers for an hour or so.

The lady who runs the agency – Melissa – was really sweet and did the copies and faxing we needed – at no charge - and let us borrow a desk in the back of the office the day that we closed.

Most recently, I walked into the bank where we had opened a couple of accounts over the past month or so, needing the account number for the savings account I had just opened up. She retrieved it for me without even asking my name, let alone asking for an I.D.

I commented on that when she returned with the information written down on paper, to which she replied with a smile, “Oh, I know who y’all are.”

I haven’t even begun to talk about the great folks at the hardware store, or the ladies who run the library. I can’t say whether it’s a difference between the independent Northern culture or the more family-oriented Southern culture, but my idea about small towns have changed.

I like them a lot better than impersonal cities. (Thank You, Jesus, for leading us here. J  )

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Compelling Reason To Go Off-Grid

My big plan for when we moved to our rural home (where we now live) was to be off-grid immediately with both energy and water. In fact, last fall after we bought a travel trailer, parked it up on our land and started visiting it every other weekend, I dug in my heels and made Jerry buy a generator to produce our electricity.

Have I ever told you I don’t like noise? I don’t like noise. A generator makes a lot of noise, even if it’s not very close to you.

If you used to read my former blog, or have read my book Hatching The Nest Egg, you know that one thing I do like is saving money.

A gas generator eats money like it was ice cream. Two weekends after using it, I did the math and realized that if we used the thing during the summer when the A/C would be going most of the time, we would be spending as much money to cool a 21-foot travel trailer as we used to spend to cool our 2159 square-foot house with central air! We’re talking around $200 per month.

Not only that, in order for me to use the Vita-Mix early in the morning, that meant for Jerry having to go out and start the generator in the dark, and in very cold temperatures (we moved at the end of January). And besides that, the generator was noisy. Oh, did I say that already?

With some reluctance, I agreed to go on the grid with energy until we got settled – until we built our permanent house, really, which I was hoping would be less than a year.

But one thing bothered me about solar photovoltaic, and that was the price. Even for a small system, it would take something like eight years to recoup our investment, compared to paying the local electric co-op $40-$50 a month. So I did a bit more research on the issue, and found a blog post explaining how extremely inefficient and expensive solar photovoltaic energy is compared to grid energy. I told Jerry that I now understood his reluctance to use solar for electricity production. He is much better than I about not saying “I told you so,” but I could see it in his eyes. I rationalized that our severe cutback in our energy needs and subsequent usage was enough to do our part to save the planet.

I change my mind

Now, I want to get off-grid with energy ASAP. I don’t care how much the initial investment is.

Why? Every month, the local electric co-op sends out a publication. In the most recent one, they talk out of both sides of their mouth. At the beginning, they have a blurb about some legislation passed in Oklahoma that will make it easier for electricity companies to diversify their sources of energy (e.g., wind, hydro). Then there was a column singing the praises of that bill having been passed.

Flip through a couple of pages, and what do I find? A long-ish article explaining why the Oklahoma electric co-ops use coal. Okay, fine. I don’t mind if someone wants to explain their position. My problem with the article is that they ignore the two biggest problems with using coal: the pollution it costs, and the lives that the mining of it impacts in sometimes tragic ways.

Cleaner burning coal

Everyone knows that when coal is burned, it produces black smoke. Forget the whole stupid carbon dioxide-global warming debate. My concern is lung cancer and other fun diseases like that. The author of the article brings up this fact, but immediately blows it off by stating that people have invented cleaner burning coal. And then goes on to lament the fact that such coal is beyond Oklahoma’s budget right now, how sad.

Not to mention the fact that there is no truly “clean” burning coal. A person may be able to reduce some of the chemicals and carbon dioxide going into the sky, but it will never burn as clean as nuclear power, or be as clean as wind.

The tragedies of strip mining

The article completely ignores that the way in which some of the coal in this country is mined is via mountaintop removal. Now, from my understanding, southeast Oklahoma coal comes from underground mines. Be that as it may, the fact is this dependence on coal does have a negative impact on folks elsewhere in the country. 

Let’s set aside the sad destruction of the beauty of this country that causes, and consider the people. The people who live in the areas where mountaintop removal goes on are very poor, and cannot afford to relocate. Some of these people are killed in mining-related landslides, many other seriously injured and without the money to take care of these injuries properly. Houses are sometimes destroyed. And these mountain residents hardly have the financial resources to pursue and legal recourse against the mining companies.

So that gives me an ethical problem with coal overall. Besides, how healthy is coal mining, anyway?

I want off-grid…YESTERDAY

I got mad. Are you kidding me? Rationalizing your determination to stick with coal by ignoring two huge ethical and moral problems with it?

My “compelling reason” to go off-grid is that the electric co-ops of Oklahoma are practicing deception in order to make a few extra bucks. (I haven’t even mentioned that we are paying $.06 more per kilowatt hour for coal energy than we did for wind energy in Plano, TX.)

I don’t care how much off-grid solar will cost us. Three thousand dollars or so is a small price to pay to know that I am no longer contributing to the pollution of this planet or potential death of a resident of Appalachia every time I turn on my blender.