Join me in my conversation with Johanna, living in Catania, Sicily! I am enlivened by this snapshot of Johanna’s over-consumption recovery, and I hope that you are too!
A few quick words about why I post “Biocadence International Interviews”: Connecting with global siblings who are making similar behavioral adjustments is a delight that I have particularly benefited from. The support and knowledge can uncover treasures we may not have known to look for, facilitating increased quality of life through living more sustainably!
Johanna of J Siljehagen Green Consulting ~
- Biocadence: Where do you live? What current events have the most impact on your community? What sustainable living practices are common in your community?
Johanna: I live in Catania, the eastern part of Sicily, just by the foot of the active volcano Etna. I live here mostly for work, to avoid back and forth travelling from where I lived before (by the beach in south Sicily which is also a great area for organic produce). Wait… I do not like to call it work… Let’s call it ”what I love to do”.
Sicily has now started to open up the dialogue about environmental issues and just some time ago inserted recycling and diversing of domestic waste. Additionally, Sicily has many sun parks (solar) and has invested a lot in wind turbines.
- Biocadence: What do you do for a living?
Johanna: I am an entreprenour in the Green Sector. I started exporting organic produce over three years ago and have now developed into other green sectors, like tourism and construction.
- Biocadence: How often do you cook at home versus eat out? Do you know your farmer(s)? Where do you get your food; how much of your food do you grow yourselves? How do you choose your food vendors? Approximately what % of your diet is meat/veggie/grain?
Johanna: We cook at home twice a day, for lunch and dinner, and eat out 1-2 times a week to eat fresh fish the local fishermen bring to the restaurants. Sicilian cuisine is pure and healthy and having fish dishes prepared by a high quality Sicilian chef is life luxury.
I know my farmers because some are connected with export, and we buy locally grown produce from markets and street vendors.
We grow a lot of herbs and spices on the terrace and planted some citrus trees like orange, mandarine and lemons. Unfortunately last season our crop was destroyed by bugs we were not prepared for and did not know how to handle. But now we have a new start and are better prepared.
I choose food vendors by looking at where the food comes from; there are polluted agricultural areas and I never buy products from there. I look for freshness and local food, otherwise I don’t buy it. We eat all food by season; this makes it more fun because dishes change and we get new recipe ideas all the time by testing something new. We do not buy any supermarket foods.
We eat red meat very little- once a month, and chicken/fish 3-4 times a week. We eat veggies every day, several times a day… we eat alot of vegetables and fruit. E.g.: Instead of potato chips, I’d rather eat fennel slices. We eat almost no grain, but a lot of beans, lentils etc.
- Biocadence: How do you refuel your spirit, energy, and optimism?
Johanna: By training my mind to be free. I read a lot of books and follow other people who have adapted a new lifestyle. You always find something new- a new perspective, a new idea, a new thing to try…
I also avoid negative people, and surround myself with positive people. I have always been an optimist, even when it rains, because after rain comes sunshine and the rain reminds us of that.
- Biocadence: If you could change one thing about humanity, what would it be?
- Biocadence: What sustainable living behaviors did you grow up with? What sustainable living transitions have you incorporated into your lifestyle? How do your sustainable living practices impact your quality of life? Why do you engage in them?
Johanna: My family was very picky with food. I was born in Lapland, Sweden, so fishing salmon and picking berries was ”normal” life. I was allowed to eat fast food once a year, when school finished for summer break. My dad had a E-list on the fridge, with all dangerous E ingredients in the food. My parents made bread, soft drinks, fish, chips, etc at home. I do not remember ever drinking Coca-Cola growing up… We were also allowed to participate in food planning and cooking. I think that is very important.
My life quality has increased a lot. My first step was to get rid of things. It was hard but I created a system that worked and sold over 1000 items in the first months. Then, when I moved to Sicily I saw the change in my health from eating pure local foods. Today I do not need medicine for daily headache or stomach problems, because they are gone. I have far fewer wrinkles, cellulite is almost gone, and allergies are gone. I have started to train my mind and have begun to have an incredible amount of peace inside; I no longer worry about the future, the past is gone… I’m learning to live today and see that life has a funny way to create a path and solve things. Do not ask me how; that is the way it is.
I engage in these changes because if we want a change, the change comes from us. No politician, God or friend can do it. Just you! And it is easy; decide – start organizing – do it! One by one, step by step…
- Biocadence: Who are your role models? Why?
Johanna: I have too many. There are a lot of good people out there. And all have their own special skills. You are one of them. Role models are those who have real life knowledge; I love to listen to their life stories.
- Biocadence: What estimates do you have about the state of global affairs 50 years in the future? How do you relate to your global siblings and/or ancestors… how do you think about them and/or incorporate thoughts of them into your decision making?
Johanna: I hope to reach to a point where, in 50 years, doing the same thing as today, I have peace in life and mind. I want to earn just what I need and have a lot of free time. I hope that, during these 50 years, I have kept the guts to say: “No!”, and stand for what I believe in. And I hope that more people, globally, have changed their way of living.
In my decison making, I think local. These are the only surroundings you can effect and control.
- Biocadence: When you are seeking answers, where do you go? Books and quotes by subject matter mentors? Exercise? Nature? Silence? Discussion with friends and family? Meditation and/or prayer? When you’ve reached your answer(s) and look back on the experience, what pleases you most: the solution you found, or the process that got you there?
Johanna: I do not seek so much answers today. When the mind is in peace, life gives you the answers you need. I see that when Ego is involved, you get the answers you want to get. But, perhaps those are not the right answers, and this gives you a lot of trouble.
I have daily dialogues with so called ”self thinking” people so I get a lovely dose every day.
Nature is the source of our strength; we cannot live without it. But nature can live without us. It is good to be reminded of that.
Now studying Ayurveda, Meditation and Yoga… it’s tough to learn when you have been an over-consumer before :).
- Biocadence: What does the verb “to enjoy” mean to you? Do you remember a moment when you mastered “enjoyment”? When… where… what were you doing? And, what made it so?
Johanna: Enjoyment means “I cannot wait to wake up to a new day”. These days I feel like that most evenings when I go to bed. It takes time to get there… but it is worth it. I work with the things I like; no one can control my time and mind. Happiness has focus on spiritual things, not on consumption and career as it was before.
- Biocadence: What is a fun fact about you that I may not know to ask about?
Johanna: I cry when I visit organic produce fields and green houses. The feelings take me over. Producers are so entertained, because they do not understand how much we have lost contact with nature in North Europe.
For more inspiration from global siblings engaged in over-consumption recovery, check out my October 2012 interview with Sietske, Off-Grid in Spain (read more here). Thanks for joining me! Squeeze hugs, from Annie at Biocadence.
Quicklinks to Most Popular Biocadence Posts:
Where do you go to decide which ethical business operations to support? Who do you ask for tips and suggestions? How do you decide…?:
- Where to shop for groceries, clothing, and household items?
- Which local farms to support?
- Where to enjoy a meal made from organic, local, grass-fed ingredients?
- Which venues to choose for celebrating milestones, anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays?
Biocadence is focused on increasing the accessibility of sustainable living, by igniting a path toward over-consumption recovery, behavioral sustainability, global sibling interconnectedness, and quality-of-life design. We are always on the look-out for tools that save time, money, and energy by making sustainable choices more readily available.
I recently downloaded the Raved app- where we can connect with our Facebook network and request/review tips on restaurants/shops/grocery (all types of venues). It helps us be selective about which businesses we support, through deliberate design of the consumption we choose to engage in. I’m excited to give my favorite sustainable businesses a shout out on the Raved app!
Sneak peak on Biocadence restaurant tips, coming soon on the Raved app:
Sink into a couch, sip a wheatgrass cocktail, marvel at a menu dancing with descriptive optimism, and enjoy raw, vegan energy-on-a-plate! You will not want to leave this turbine of positivity, so lengthen your stay with a slice (or two) of my favorite key lime pie, made with creamy avocado and cashew nut crust!
We love Corners Tavern for its delicious grass-fed burger, internationally-inspired brunch selection, mesmerizing menu of desserts, and captivating decor. Don’t forget to muse over the design of the restaurant, accented by re-purposed antiques and murals using Sumi Ink and Tea-Stain on paper!
What are your favorite spots? Share with me here, on the Biocadence Facebook page, and support your favorite sustainable businesses by sharing your tips on the Raved app!
Squeeze hugs from Annie at Biocadence.
**Featured image sourced from Raved Facebook page
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- “The Hunger Games”… Fiction or Non-Fiction?
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- Use Biodegrable Trash Bags!
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- Raved Recommendation App Makes it Easier to Tap Into Your Social Graph
- New Raved App Launches in Chicago
- Raved Delivers Friend-Powered Recommendation App for Android Users to Explore the World Around Them
Cooking from recipes lowers our margin for error, usually ensuring a delicious outcome. On the other hand, it often requires a grocery run. Eliminate waste, saving gas, money, and time, by working from a baseline recipe and swapping-in ingredients you already have in the kitchen. Added bonus: Although I don’t show this in the example below, note that ingredient swapping can also help us eliminate use of out-of-season ingredients.
Last week, I decided that I needed a healthy vegetable and chicken lunch. To add a flavorful topping, I made an indulgent Pesto Cream Sauce. Of the 7 ingredients in the Gorgonzola Cream Sauce baseline recipe I used, I only had 3:
- Pinch of salt
- 1 TBS butter
- 4 cloves garlic
I swapped the remaining 4 ingredients, and embellished the sauce with additional ingredients that were fresh and ready to be used!
Ingredients I swapped:
- 1 TBS Butter => Grassfed Butter (Of course!)
- 1 TBS All Purpose Flour => Coconut Flour (I don’t use AP flour, for health purposes)
- 1.25 Cups Low fat milk => .5 Cup Half & Half, .75 Cups Water
- 1/4 Cups Cream Cheese => 1/4 Cup Goat Cheese
- 1/2 Cup Gorgonzola Cheese => I used the 2TBS I had left, and added a little more goat cheese and another pinch of salt
Embellishments – Eliminate Waste by adding ingredients you already have, that need to be used:
- Chopped tomato – The evening before, we’d had tacos; a tupperware of left-over tomato was beckoning.
- Basil – A carton of basil, ready and fresh… how could I resist throwing this bundle in the food processor and morphing my creation into a pesto cream sauce??? #JustDoIt!
- .10 gallons of gas
- An estimated $12 on groceries
- At least 45 minutes for the shopping trip
- Waste – Remaining AP flour, milk, and cream cheese would have likely gone unused
DARE I SAY THE OUTCOME WAS TASTIER? I DARE! Easy, given my love for pesto and tomato.
Add butter, crushed garlic, & flour at medium heat. Brown for 2-3 mins.
Slowly stir in half & half and water.
Add cheeses and basil. Stir until it mix melts and thickens.
Add tomato and pinch of salt to taste. Stir and lower heat, until you have desired consistency!
Sprinkle onto healthy meal for flavor. Delicious!
What other baseline recipes allow for easy ingredient swapping? Please share your creations with us! Thanks for reading. Squeeze hugs from Annie at Biocadence.
I’ve often heard the witty complaint: “It’s not Whole Foods; it’s Whole Paycheck”. I’ve indulged in the Whole Foods experience enough to know that this can be the case. The Chow blog shares the results of their investigative shopping experiment:
“Our run for “regular” groceries at the local Safeway came to $136.31, typical for a week’s worth of our groceries (and some leftovers). The total for the organic groceries was $199.78, about $65 more. And remember, organic food comes in smaller packages. Using these rough numbers, eating purely organic would cost us about $260 more per month.” (Source)
$260 more per month would certainly be cost prohibitive for many! However, this conjecture balances upon a modern foundation — one that may prove to be rickety: we should spend less than 10% of our overall income on food.
“Consider that in 1932, spending on food at home took almost 22% of disposable income, compared to the record low of only 5.6% in 2008.” (Source)
Might it be that we can afford relatively “expensive” real-food if we prioritize nutrition over entertainment and ease? Has our culture decided that accessibility to technology, cell phones, cable television, video games (dare I add cigarettes and alcohol, for many) are more important than real-food? Might this upside-down priority pyramid be reinforced by the addictive quality of inexpensive processed foods made from seemingly infinite variations of (for the most part) two government-subsidized ingredients: corn and petroleum?
Purchasing real-food can feel like a squeeze. In response to this, we must recognize that nutrition and health are list-toppers, bar none! As I wrote in In Response to Coca-Cola Anti-Obesity Campaign,
“The pharmaceutical consequences of consuming GMOs, as well as other substances disguised as food (i.e. high fructose corn syrup) may result in prohibitive healthcare costs for the very same families who feel threatened by rising food costs!”
Despite its reputation for being prohibitively expensive, real-food is not always as expensive as the nay-sayers would have us believe. While I pray that our culture rediscovers the importance of real-food to the extent that we are willing to pay for it, there are few barriers to uncovering inexpensive real-food!
Join me in my tour of Berkeley, California’s Monterey Market.
Oh my goodness, there is produce everywhere… literally. Think you can’t get organic, California grown avocados and berries in the winter? Think again!
Behind me in the check-out line is a lady with a full cart of produce. She shares: “I come all the way from Hercules to get my groceries here. It’s so much more fresh than anything in my local markets.”
Why do I feel more healthy and eco-friendly, just by being in the market?
- The two-foot tall mounds of swiss chard, perhaps?
- The largest bulk-food selection I have ever laid eyes on?
- The absence of turbo-sanitized, lemme eat some pesticides, bleached-just-this-morning supermarket luster?
- Maybe it’s the sensation that fellow shoppers are my people: hard-working, urban-homestead-bound foodies of all shapes, ages and income levels?
As I come down from my real-food high, it is appropriate to make a sobering statement: for those without income, real-food is indeed cost-prohibitive. And yet, real-food resources abound. Too name a few:
- Homefullness is an organization focused on providing resources to homeless individuals,
“Located on the grounds of the Gateway Shelter for Men, Homefull’s Micro Farm boasts over 160 raised beds, growing fresh produce.” (Source)
- Endlessly Organic is an organization that offers organic produce to families who may not otherwise have produce in the kitchen.
- Earthbound Farm Organic donates organic produce to local schools and hospitals. (Source)
- Organic Valley offers grants, cash, and food donations. (Source)
Ultimately, I’m making three statements in response to three questions today:
- Can we find accessibly priced real-food? YES!
- Should we re-prioritize such that a larger percentage of our budget is available for real-food? YES!
- As our culture re-discovers the vitality of real-food, is there market space for creative innovation in the real-food movement? HECK YES!!!
Thank you for reading, beautiful people! I appreciate your support and feedback. Consider following the Biocadence blog by entering your email address and clicking “subscribe”, in the upper right of the Biocadence homepage. Squeeze hugs!