Preserve Your Right to Know What’s in Your Food by Speaking Out Against the Dark Act

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You make smart choices for yourself in all areas of your life, not the least of which happens at the dinner table.  You may have family members with allergies, heart disease or other special needs.  You may be trying to lose weight.  Food labels can help you make informed choices as part of your #CleanCouponing approach, because as much as you like saving money, you know the value of investing in good nutrition.

Could you imagine going on a diet without being able to find out how many calories, grams of sugar or trans fats are in certain foods?  That’s what’s happening now with your right to know about GMOs.

Did you know that TODAY a movement is happening in Washington to deny your right to get accurate, complete food labeling at the grocery store?   It’s dubbed the DARK Act or Deny Americans the Right to Know Act, but your elected representative may only know it as HR 1599, and it’s due for a vote.  This video explains why you might want to know what’s in your food:

You can call TODAY to tell your elected representative that you expect a “no” vote on the infamously nicknamed DARK Act.  Here’s an easy tool provided by the Center for Food Safety that allows you to enter your phone number and be directly connected via your phone to the appropriate Washington office.  It makes speaking up (politely) to your elected official an easy, 5-minute task that everyone can do!

Not only has the Food and Drug Administration refused to label genetically engineered foods otherwise known as genetically modified foods or GMOs, even though they’re often treated with the glyphosate herbicide recognized by top scientists as probably linked to cancer; but the DARK Act legislation would deny states’ rights to require GMO labeling, even if the people of that state vote for it like they did in Vermont and some other states.  If you eat any conventional processed foods at all, you are likely being exposed to pesticide residues and unknown health harms, according to modern science.  So, the DARK Act would make it more difficult for you to make personal choices about the food you want to feed your family.

A few watchdogs like Just Label It and the Center for Food Safety are trying to keep everyone informed and push back against the intense chemical-food industry lobbyists. Those in Washington are bracing for a vote in the US House as early as July 23, so it is critical you call today and make your voice heard with your representative.

If you care about #CleanCouponing, truly knowing the quality of the food you choose for your family, you’ll want to get the most information you can from a food label.  That means a NO vote on the DARK Act and a yes to authentic, mandatory, state-level GMO labeling.

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Back-to-School #CleanCouponing Twitter Chat

Back-to-school time is nearly upon the typical American family, and preparing children for this transition is no small test of parental endurance!  Could you possibly fill the class supply list for under $50?  Why did the teacher ask for the impossible-to-find brand of #2 pencils?  Why did Johnny have to outgrow every pair of shoes during the summer?  Should you choose school lunch or pack your own?

pile of books with one book open on empty green  school board background

Join a back-to-school themed #CleanCouponing chat on Thursday, July 23 from 9 to 10 pm Eastern time, when @CleanCouponing and @FlourSackMama host this monthly chat on Twitter.

Please help me spread the word by copying and tweeting this:

Join me for Back-to-School #CleanCouponing chat with @CleanCouponing & @FlourSackMama Thurs, July 23, 9 pm ET!

We’re inviting public/private school parents, homeschooling parents, and any parents who wants to share tips and encouragement about this annual rite of passage.  We’ll cover some tips on stocking up with supplies, encouraging schools to be wellness-minded and eco-friendly, and green back-to-school ideas that could save you money.

Please follow guest panelists @Mike_Schade who is Mind the Store campaign director for @SaferChemicals@Langford_Mom who can speak to homeschooling, mom Tamara at @LeadSafeAmerica, Spit That Out author @PaigeWolf, former Kindergarten teacher @IrishRed02 and @CleanAirMoms_TN!

Five #CleanCouponing Back-to-School tips…

open faced sandwich cookie

Why I Buy My Kids Junk Food

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I admit it.

I buy my kids junk food.

You too?

stack of chocolate sandwich cookies

But Clean Couponing is all about being frugal with more than money!

How can a parent be concerned about issues like health and ingredients while admitting to buying junk food?

Here’s how:  In a perfect world I would have enough space for not just an organic garden but a mini-farm in my own backyard, where I’d produce enough food for everything I needed in the kitchen. I’d have time to cook absolutely every meal and snack from scratch for my family.  Plus, my kids would have no outside influences tempting them to try greasy, sugary, fattening, processed foods.  That’s not the world we live in, is it?

I do grow organic vegetables in our garden.  I do cook from scratch as much as possible.  I also need time-saving methods.  I also spend time shuttling kids to various activities.  I also give in to their requests for “fun” food.

Where Clean Couponing comes in is that it can help me strategically stock up on the kinds of “fun” meal and snack foods my kids want to eat, while giving me the chance to play defense with the ingredients.  I’m using the term “junk food” loosely, meaning no offense to any particular food or food maker.

open faced sandwich cookie

At some point, the kids will beg for chocolate cookies, and if I’ve checked ahead of time for the cookies without the trans fats and genetically modified ingredients, I’ve accomplished something.  They will want ice cream or candy or gum, so I can choose from the few brands that don’t use coal-tar derived food dyes and suspicious preservatives or fillers.

While I wouldn’t want to serve my family hot dogs frequently, the occasional picnic is a chance to try these made with more wholesome ingredients than most.  (Don’t miss this giveaway that ends soon.)

My kids know I scrutinize ingredients and practice Clean Couponing because I love them. They also know I find creative ways to let them enjoy “junk food” because I love them, too. If I stock up ahead of time, watch for sales, check out brand coupons online, it helps me provide these more wholesome versions of fun or junk foods, which is harder to do at the last minute.  If we really get in a rush, if I’m behind on meal preparation, and if I haven’t stocked up on better “junk” foods, those are the few times when we get into a downward fast food spiral, and that can really wreck a family nutrition plan.

Perhaps the biggest pitfall in stocking up on healthier “junk” foods is that even organic, GMO-free, gluten-free foods can still be high in sugar.  This is a legitimate concern, and a reason to never lean too heavily on processed foods, even if they bear all of the politically correct food labels.  Despite this potentially pitfall, I stand by my method of staying stocked up on some fun alternative foods.

How are you Clean Couponing to make sure your family’s fun or “junk” food is as clean as possible?


Grilling Applegate Hotdogs

#GirlsWhoGrill Celebrating Summer with Applegate Grilling Kit Giveaway

Thanks to Applegate for stocking us up on the fixins’ for a backyard picnic!  Get your #CleanCouponing coupons here.

Where did grilling get ingrained in their machismo?  It’s there, from open-fire cooking for survival to boys and their heavy metal grilling toys! Even a man like my husband who’s intimidated by a kitchen recipe with more than three ingredients will proudly reign as king of the outdoor grill, as if pushing that fuel button to light the thing up suddenly imbibes him with the expert ability to prepare a gourmet feast!

He was somewhat uncomfortable with the idea that the queen of the household would be taking over his grill this summer — that #GirlsWhoGrill might put more attention onto the quality of the food cooking on it.  His machismo is a bit threatened.

applegate family

For me as a parent, I care about ingredients, while I don’t plan on taking away anyone’s summer fun.  Hot dogs have been around a long time as a grilling favorite.  So, while I won’t be serving these every week, they’re a once-in-a-while summer treat that my kids & husband want.

What’s the difference between these and your typical dogs?

  • Quality meats raised with humane practices & without antibiotics
  • 100% grass-fed beef
  • All Applegate products going non-GMO in summer 2015
  • Meat as the main ingredient, without junk fillers or added sugars or corn syrups
  • No chemical preservatives
  • No added nitrites (only those naturally occurring in celery)
  • Lower than many other hot dogs in sugar, sodium and fat

Grilling Applegate Hotdogs

Most importantly, these Applegate hot dogs taste great!  Mind you, they’re not as fatty and sweet tasting as some leading weiners because they’re not relying on those junk ingredients to boost their appeal.  These are a real meat lover’s hot dog. We recently grilled the uncured, natural beef weiners from Applegate, dressed up with Sir Kensington’s ketchup and mustard atop yummy buns from Vermont Bread Company.

I understand that some food purists want to avoid processed meats altogether, and that’s an honorable goal.  At our house, the family is going to demand the convenience and fun of something like hot dogs sometimes.  This is the best quality product of this kind that I can give them.

Some of you who’ve championed small farmers (I’ll always be a family farm girl myself, grew up showing hogs at the fair) and supported independent food companies are understandably skeptical, too about Applegate’s recent acquisition by food giant Hormel. Here’s an excerpt from the letter that Applegate’s founder, Stephen McDonnell, wrote about that:

The acquisition will not change our positions on any of the important issues. We will continue to support labeling for GMO ingredients. We will continue to push to remove antibiotics from the farm and to improve the animal welfare standards in our supply chain.

This is all easy to say, of course. So I don’t ask you to take me at my word. Just watch what we do. Our products and practices will remain the same–and some will improve. For instance, as of this month 100 percent of our beef for hot dogs and roast beef will come from pasture raised and grass fed cattle. In addition, by this summer we will have converted 100% of our products to be free of GMO ingredients.

Applegate Kid Hotdog

Family fun, laid back summer times, even giving the man another macho turn at the grill — it’s all part of life.  When I make food purchases, I still care about what’s inside, so choosing a brand like Applegate whenever I can find a coupon for it is still part of my #CleanCouponing strategy.

You have a chance to enter below for your very own Applegate grilling kit, complete with a meat thermometer, apron, grilling mitt and great food!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As always, my opinions are my own, even when sharing sponsored posts like this.

Calling All Beautycounter Consultants to Join #CleanCouponing Twitter Chat!

Want to know more about the hottest new beauty products you’ve been seeing?  These are not just a fad, but they’re quickly gaining popularity because of what’s inside: ingredients screened for health, safety and performance.

All independent Beautycounter consultants are invited to the June 11 #CleanCouponing Twitter party where we’ll discuss what’s drawing so many women to use these skincare products and recommend them to their friends.

Beautycounter CleanCouponing chat


May #CleanCouponing Twitter Chat is a Safe & Healthy Garden Party

*Enter here for a great #CleanCouponing giveaway by Naturepedic!

Spring cleaning, school-end festivities, summer planning, garden parties — who’s ready to a sunny celebration of all things #CleanCouponing for this warm-season transition?

You are invited to join the next #CleanCouponing Twitter chat with a Garden Party theme that is all about choosing healthy, safe products for our families!  We’ll get the latest on #MindtheStore efforts for retailers to vet product ingredients before they try selling those products to you.  We’ll catch up on the efforts to improve public policy on safer chemicals – which ultimately affects what goes into all our homes.  We’ll have tips on steps you can take right now to spring clean your home of some toxic chemicals.

Clean Couponing May Chat

We’re honored to host as special guests at this garden party both Women’s Voices for the Earth and the coalition Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families!  We’ll update you on the latest #MindtheStore news and more.

We’re also excited about some enthusiastic and knowledgeable blogging panelists who’ll be joining the conversation to share how they’re tackling safer chemicals issues in their own homes and lives. Of course, you are invited too!

Just show up on Twitter next Thursday, May 14 at 9 pm Eastern time and use hashtag #CleanCouponing to take part in the conversation.  I’m working on some related giveaways for you.

I’d really appreciate it if you could help spread the word about this by inviting everyone you know. Here is a suggested tweet:

Learn what @women4earth & @SaferChemicals R doing for you!  #CleanCouponing Garden Party May 14, 9 pm ET by @CleanCouponing @FlourSackMama!

#CleanCouponing Twitter Chat on Earth Care Features Eco Author & Sierra Club

Clean Couponing is about being frugal with more than money.  If this month’s #CleanCouponing Twitter chat is about Earth Care, what would your shopping choices have to do with being frugal in this area?

I like to save money as much as the next person, and I also look for value in the quality of the food – for instance picking organically produced foods when I can, to protect my family’s health and to support farmers who are doing what’s right for our environment.  I appreciate brands that are mindful about the packaging they use so it creates as little waste as possible.

If you’re frugal with health, you might want to know about the connection between health and clean air, a key component of the cleaner energy movement to stem climate change while building healthier communities.

If you’re frugal with pre-teen and teen values, you might want to ask teacher and author Katy Farber about the motivation behind her new book, The Order of the Trees, which she’ll be giving away during our chat.

Earth Care can also mean avoiding the greenwashing that is rampant in the market today. So, while this #CleanCouponing chat is not sponsored and not designed to sell you anything in particular, we may have room for some honest conversation about avoiding greenwashing.  That, because if you are in #CleanCouponing mode, you have authentic values like caring for your family, being good stewards with the budget you have, and picking products that are useful, not wasteful.

Happy child in spring field. Young girl relax outdoors. Freedom concept

Please join us on Twitter Thursday night, April 9, from 9 to 10 pm Eastern, and follow both @CleanCouponing and @FlourSackMama as well as our special guests @SierraMidTN and @Non_Toxic_Kids.  Please use hashtag #CleanCouponing to join the conversation.

Here are a couple of suggested tweets you could use to tell your friends about our chat:

Care about kids? Join @Non_Toxic_Kids @SierraMidTN for Earth Care #CleanCouponing chat Thurs, April 9, 9 pm ET hosted by @FlourSackMama!

Ask @SierraMidTN about #ReChargeTVA at Thurs 9 pm Earth Care #CleanCouponing chat with @Non_Toxic_Kids @FlourSackMama @CleanCouponing & more!

Hope to chat with you soon!

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Stretching a Dollar with Castile Soap Refills

“We can’t afford that!”

“It’s too expensive!”

Do you find yourself saying that about certain home products you’d like to try but don’t think fit your budget?

I used to think that about hand soap, until I realized the real cost…

Castile Soap Refills

Dr. Bronner castile soap with four soap dispenser refills

This is not a sponsored post, just an honest show & tell about one way we use #CleanCouponing at our home to stretch a dollar while choosing to be frugal with our health.

Anti-bacterial triclosan that could be adding to antibiotic resistance, synthetic fragrances hiding potential hormone disrupting phthalates, artificial colors and even more mystery ingredients are all things our family can easily expose ourselves to every time we simply need to wash our hands.  There are numerous reasons why I decided to switch what we use at home every day to something that simply gets the job done: castile soap.

I realize we’d been spending between $3 and $6 for a typical 8-ounce plastic bottle of plastic hand soap.  How  wasteful!  We switched to reusable soap dispensers for our home instead.

I typically spend no more than $12 for a 32-ounce bottle of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap (you could use any brand, but this is a leading one and you absolutely need to find a brand that is transparent about the ingredients inside).  Then, if I put 8 ounces of castile soap into four different bottles, I’m at no more expense that I was spending before on soap bottles. Since this castile soap is actually touted as three times as concentrated as traditional soaps, here’s where the potential for extra savings comes in.  If I stretch this soap with distilled water, it costs half or even a third of those other soaps.

If texture is important to you, and you want to get fancy with it, I’ve noticed that pure vegetable glycerin in my soap dispensers helps give this castile soap a thicker feel on the hands.  Otherwise, when I dilute the soap it with water, it does feel watery, although it certainly seems to clean just fine on our hands.  Instead of the artificial scents in other soaps, our family alternates choosing a castile soap scented with the natural oils of everything from almond to lavender to peppermint.

One of the biggest mistakes with concentrated castile soaps is using too much, so I would suggest stretching it in some way or at least getting accustomed to using less than you did with those other soaps that contain artificial fillers.

The oils in these soaps can tend to clog pumps, so it takes a little attention from time to time. Definitely worth the trouble for our family, since we have peace of mind about what’s going on our children’s hands.

An added #CleanCouponing bonus of using castile soap for refilling is cutting down on petroleum-based plastic bottle waste and protecting our environment.

How are you #CleanCouponing in your home?

Basil Harvested

Kitchen Garden #CleanCouponing Chat

If you could pick one thing to grow organically in your own kitchen garden, what would it be?  Will you be growing some of your own fresh vegetables and herbs this year?  Join us Thursday, March 12 at 9 pm Eastern on Twitter for our next #CleanCouponing chat on growing a kitchen garden!

Tomatoes Garden Twitter chat


What easy plants would an expert gardener suggest you try?  We’ll share those ideas.

Is seed saving really worth it?  I’ll share how that’s been working for me.

Where can you go to find open pollinated, heirloom seeds that you could use to continue seed saving each year?  I’ll share some of my favorite sources for non-GMO seeds.

Be sure to join us tonight at 9 pm Eastern and follow @FlourSackMama and @CleanCouponing.  Use the hashtag #CleanCouponing to join in the conversation!


#CleanCouponing Pantry Meals to Stretch Your Dollars

Post by Jessica

When Christmas is over and the holiday travel is done, our family tries hard to settle back into a routine. But, we usually realize early in the New Year that some of our overindulgences have left our wallets a little thin. And, since it’s not like we can avoid paying the electric bill, we find other ways to tighten the purse straps. The main place to save is on groceries, with some common sense #CleanCouponing techniques.


I like to make the food budget stretch by attempting to use everything (and I mean everything) in the pantry. It seems throughout the year I stock up on good deals. That, combined with my garden canning, can lead to some interesting, but wallet friendly, meals.

Remember that time you bought 20 boxes of pasta because it was on sale?

  • Toss it with some canned tomatoes, Italian dressing and cubed cheese and you have a quick and easy pasta salad.
  • Or use some of your homemade pasta sauce stash, sautéed with ground beef for a classic spaghetti and meat sauce.

I will admit I went overboard with canning this year. I have dozens of jars of applesauce left. But, it makes a nice fresh side for any meal!

  • The ever classic BFD (breakfast for dinner). Scramble up some eggs and whip up some pancakes. Add applesauce on the side and it’s a nice meal, mostly from pantry overstock.
  • Our family likes pork chops and applesauce any day of the week.

Some other family favorites include:

  • Drain a jar of tomatoes, drain a can of black beans, 1 cup of rice and 1.5 cups of chicken stock. Throw it all in the rice cooker and when done it’s a delicious rice meal.
  • Tomato soup made from the extra jars of tomatoes.
  • Pizza casserole also uses a lot of those pantry ingredients (mix together cooked pasta, a jar of pizza sauce and layer it with mozzarella cheese. Top with cheese and pepperoni and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes).

Be creative and have fun with dinner all while saving a little dough the #CleanCouponing way!