Erin Ely is in my kitchen today, talking about her organic lifestyle, a hearty and warm favorite go-to meal, and her media obsession.
Erin Ely is an organic fanatic, strategic optimist, community and political activist, homebirther, attachment parent, and homeschooler. She’s mother to two kids, Maggie, age 16, and Locke, age 20. Erin is passionate about the “slow” movement—SlowFood.org, SlowMoneyAlliance.org, SlowCoast.org—and she is also a dedicated Bioneers.org fan. Erin owns ElyOrganics.com; she also works with her husband Doug, who owns a financial planning business with a focus on socially responsible investing.
Why is living organic important to you?
I am a fanatic when it comes to organic living. I have been eating organic and local food for more than 15 years. Eating organic really started for me when my kids were young. I became more and more aware of the organic-food and organic-living movements when my kids were born. I had always cared about the environment (I have a degree in forest management), but did not realize how much of an impact food and farming had on the amount of environmental chemicals released into the environment from pesticide and fertilizer use. Globally, there are in the hundreds of millions of tons of fertilizer and pesticides being applied to farmlands every year. As much as 85 percent of all pesticides used today are used in agriculture. The leakage of fertilizer into the environment adversely affects groundwater and increases greenhouse effects (climate change).
This is why, for me, it is very important to choose certified organic whenever I can, from food to personal-care products and clothing. The largest percentage of chemicals in the water supply and in the environment come from agriculture, and this is one place where I feel like I can really do something about making a difference by choosing organic for me and for my family.
What was your favorite food growing up?
This is a hard one for me. I can’t think of just one food, or even two. My mom was a fairly average cook, but my dad was a great cook. My fondest memories of food are eating with my family (six kids) around our round kitchen table, and when my dad made dinner and put it on the table, the forks would be flying.
What’s your go-to comfort food now?
Soup, I love soup. I really appreciate soups that are made with mineral-rich bone broth. I’m a big fan of Sally Fallon and the Weston A. Price foundation, and I have learned a lot from their book Nourishing Traditions about making mineral-rich bone broths as the basis for my soups. There’s nothing better than a nice soup made with good rich bone broth.
What’s the one thing in your kitchen you just couldn’t live without?
I make most of my food from scratch, but I don’t necessarily need a lot of gadgets. I think a good set of knives is a basic necessity in the kitchen.
What magazine, website, book, album, or product are you most obsessed with right now?
Oh gosh, this is a hard one. I am a social-media junkie right now, so I spend a significant amount of time on Twitter and Facebook. I do get a lot of information that way, tidbits here and there. I definitely follow Maria and Rodale and the Huffington Post.
What’s the most important news story today that you think we all need to pay more attention to?
I have been following the issue of body burden for many years. And because of this, I’m very concerned about chemicals in the environment—from the food we eat to the products we use on our bodies every day, and other everyday exposures we get from clothing, furniture, toys, and such. There is definite scientific evidence that certain hormone-mimicking chemicals like phthalates, phenol compounds like bisphenol-A (BPA), and phytoestrogens are gender bending, with boys becoming more feminized and early puberty being triggered in girls. This whole chemical exposure issue is putting people at greater risk for cancer and diabetes.
The book Living Downstream, by Sandra Steingraber (considered a modern-day Rachael Carson), and also her recent documentary by the same name, are really good resources around this issue.
Where do you get your news?
NPR, Huffington Post, Twitter, Facebook, Alternet, TruthOut, NYTimes.com, Thom Hartmann—all online sources, I don’t read the paper or watch TV much these days.