Family of Five: The Jurgensens
I'd like you to meet the Jurgensen Family, Mark and Lisa Jurgensen and their three children. Lisa and Mark were both at one time practicing nurses, now Lisa is a stay at home mom and Mark works as a Nurse Anesthetist. Lisa specialized as a midwife, and has had experience with natural home births, center births as well as the traditional hospital birth. The Jurgensen family wanted to live an organic life for their children and their animals. The Jurgensen family has been living a green sustainable life for the past six to eight years, not only in the aspect of medicine but several others as well.
Going Green in Your Home
Our first topic of discussion is lawn care, which is something that Lisa and her family are very passionate about. The Jurgensen family practices composting. Composting can be a simple process once you have become accustomed to doing so. We will discuss further what can and can’t be composted as well as getting started.
Compost is organic material, and it is added to the soil to aid in the growing of plants. Once compost has matured, it becomes a stable material that is called humus. It is usually a black or dark brown color and has a soil aroma to it. This compost material is created when you combine your organic waste, such as food wastes, manure and yard trimmings together. It should be separated into piles; you shouldn’t have a compost pile that becomes too large because it will be difficult for the material to break down. Sometimes it is beneficial to add something like wood chips to the pile so it can help accelerate the breakdown of organic materials. Some other tips for helping the breakdown of materials are to chop up larger items. You will need something to put your compost pile in, these items can be put into a compost bin. If you make your own bin, or chose to buy one you should have one that you can easily turn. If you have space in your backyard somewhere you could also put your compost materials in a heap outside.
Here is a list of items that you can put into your compost pile:
- Animal manure
- Clean paper
- Coffee grounds
- Fruits and vegetables
- Grass clippings
- Tea bags
- Wood chips
- Any yard trimmings
- Hay and Straw
Things that you should not compost are:
- Dairy Products, because they can create odor problems
- Fats, grease or oils, which can also create odor problems
- Meats, which will not break down because they are filled with proteins
- Yard trimmings that are treated with pesticides, because they could kill beneficial organisms that are involved in the compost process.
When the compost process is finished, the substance can be applied to lawns and gardens to give them extra nutrients. These extra nutrients can be extremely beneficial for your garden and lawn in general. Lisa Jurgensen and her family compost everything they can; they personally find it beneficial because it increases the earthworm population.
Some other reasons that composting is beneficial:
- It can help plants fight disease
- It can reduce or eliminate the use of chemical fertilizers
- It can also be beneficial for your pocket! It reduces the amount of waste you put into your trash can, which will cut down your cost of garbage expenses. It will also cut down the amount of money you spend on lawn care products.
Another fantastic option with using compost is making compost tea. Compost tea can be made by soaking the compost in water. After your compost has turned into a liquid, you can use this as a natural pesticide by spraying it over your garden and lawn. It is much safer and better for the environment. It will help increase your plant growth and provides nutrients to the soil as well as adding many beneficial organisms to the soil.
The Jurgensen family also feels very strongly about the way they take care of their lawn in general! They use a lawn care service called Organic Approach, who they spoke of very nicely and highly recommended. Organic Approach is an organization that is located in Lancaster, they can come to your home and test your soil for only $15 and then personalize your lawn care needs, all while being good to the environment.
Lisa felt very strongly about using products such as weed-n-feed, which can be very harmful for a number of reasons. Weed-n-feed can run into the water system, which inevitably will cause the water to become polluted. This dangerous product can also be tracked into homes which can be harmful to small children or animals that are often playing on the ground in the house. Weed-n-feed doesn’t just kill the bad things, it also kills the good things, and it eliminates a greener lawn and kills weeds which are extremely beneficial for your lawn and garden. Using a natural fertilizer is your best option when fertilizing your lawn, a great natural fertilizer to use is chicken poop; it is the richest animal manure.
Here are some helpful tips that can make your lawn better for the environment as well as make it look better. Let your lawn grow, and mow it high by using a mower blade that is three inches. Also, don’t cut the grass below three inches. Tall grass is much better because it will hold up better during summer heat, and it has longer roots, which can increase water intake and increase the levels of nutrients. It helps provide the soil some shade, which can greatly eliminate crab grass damage. Doing all of these small things can help give your grass a better immune system, and it will help to fight off disease killing bacteria. Practicing these few small things can help prevent the use of pesticides, which often make your lawn unhealthy anyway. When cutting your grass you should make sure that your mower blade is sharp, a dull blade can shred the tip of the grass and that will give the lawn a brown look when the tips of the grass start to dry out. This will make the lawn more susceptible to disease; a few other small tips are mow when the grass is dry and mow when it is cooler outside, such as early in the evening.
Lisa talked about how America is very obsessed with a green, perfect and weed free grass. However, Lisa emphasized many times are important weeds really are for your lawn as well as the ecosystem in general. One very common weed many people try to rid their lawns of is dandelions, which are very beneficial to not only your yard but also to your health. Dandelions attract ladybugs, because they provide food. A lawn that has a lot of ladybugs is a good thing because they eat pests that can destroy the lawn. Dandelions also have long roots, which help the soil accumulate minerals and they are added to the soil when the plant dies. Dandelions can also be used for food! Dandelions can be eaten cooked or uncooked and can often be found in salads, and can be used to make cookies. Dandelions are very high in iron, and they are a good green to eat. Dandelions can be used as a liver detoxifier and their dry roots can be used to make a coffee like drink.
The Jurgensens shared insight on how they live their life in terms of food! Lisa admitted that when she was in college, she too had a hard time eating proper foods. It can be a hard adjustment from drinking regular soda and eating processed foods to “going green” in terms of your diet, but nonetheless it is possible to do with practice. A phrase the Jurgensen family finds themselves living by is, “Buy fresh, buy local.” A few great reasons that Mark gave about buying local is that you have the opportunity to ask how often they spray their crops, what do they feed their cattle, and other questions that may concern you personally. It can be dangerous to buy foods that come from other countries because it doesn’t mean they follow our country’s guidelines when it comes to food.
Let’s talk about Milk! Raw milk is actually better for you then pasteurized milk is; raw milk can be found in Lancaster at Miller’s Health Food Store. One might ask, “If raw milk is better for you, then why do farmers pasteurize it?” There is history behind this issue of raw milk and pasteurized milk. In the earlier 1900’s, farmers in New York began to feed their cows things other than grass, which is very bad for cows. Farmer’s were feeding their cows things like grain, corn and high fructose corn syrup. Feeding cows’ grain is bad for the cows, but it makes better meat, which often encourages the farmers to feed them grain for the sake of their sales. Cows can not digest high fructose corn syrup or corn, which causes the farmer to then pump their cows with antibiotics. In New York, farmers started to feed their cows many of those mentioned above, when the cows got sick they pumped them with antibiotics and had to heat the milk of the cows to kill germs. In reality, if the farmers would have taken better care of their cows, they would have never had to start heating the milk to kill the germs. When the milk is heated, it destroys many natural nutrients that are beneficial for the human body. When comparing grass fed cows to corn fed cows, corn fed cows have eight to ten bad fats compared to one good fat. Cows that only eat grass usually have one to two bad fats. Organic beef is often your best option when it comes to meats because you ingest less bad fats, and it lessens your chances of cardiac arrest.
When it comes to eating organic, buying fruits and vegetables are very beneficial for your health. Farmers spray many pesticides on their crops in order for them to grow the amount they need to meet the demand. When it comes to buying organic fruit, the fruit that you should buy organic is fruit that has a skin. Even after washing off an apple, it will still contain the pesticides that were sprayed on it. Pesticides can be detrimental to your health, so it is important to buy those fruits organic. For example, it is not a necessity that you buy bananas organic because you don’t actually eat the banana peel which contains the majority of the pesticides.
Fruits that have skin that you should buy organic:
- Apples, washing and peeling won’t eliminate the pesticides from the apple and it is beneficial to eat the skin of apples because it contains many nutrients.
- Nectarines, nectarines are heavily sprayed with pesticides.
- Strawberries, if you buy them out of season they are often imported from other countries that have less strict laws about food regulation.
- Grapes, which are covered in more pesticides if they are imported. Vineyards are usually heavily sprayed with pesticides and have a very thin skin.
- Pears, once insects become more and more exposed to pesticides, the more they need to use on the fruit to keep them away.
Vegetables to buy organic:
- Sweet Bell Peppers, they have a very thin skin and are often heavily sprayed with pesticides
- Celery, celery has no protective skin and is also sprayed with pesticides so there is no way to wash off the pesticides
- Leafy greens, which are often the most pesticide infected
- Potatoes aren’t the most important thing to buy organic, but buying organic is always an option
- Tomatoes, like potatoes are now more of a cleaner vegetable to buy but they have a very thin skin, so it couldn’t hurt to buy organic
Don’t worry, there are some fruits and vegetables you can buy that don’t see as many pesticides!
Here is a list of a few things you can buy non-organic:
- Onions, which often don’t see many pest problems and that is why they aren’t sprayed that often or very heavily
- Avocados, they have a very thick skin, which doesn’t allow the pesticides to seep into the fruit that often
- Sweet Corn
- Pineapples, which also have a very thick skin and pesticides can’t easily reach the part you will be eating
- Mango, which also have a thick skin, but you should still wash before you cut and eat
- Sweet Peas, they suffer the least amount of pests
- Kiwi, their peel provides a barrier from pests
- Cabbage, a lot of spraying isn’t needed when growing cabbage
- Watermelon, which has a natural defense for chemicals
- Sweet Potatoes
The Jurgensen family eliminated soda from their home when they first started to buy natural and “go green.” In their home they drink Izze’s natural soda and they also drink a lot of milk and tea. Mark even said that drinking beer without preservatives is better for you then drinking soda. Also, one glass of red wine a day isn’t bad for you either, it can help your heart, lungs, kidneys and brain. However, you should limit your alcohol intake to reduce the risk of alcoholism.
Soda is one of the worst things you can put into your body! It is usually believed that diet soda is better for you, but according to Lisa if you’re going to drink soda, you might as well drink the regular kind. Diet soda contains even more chemicals then regular. Coke-a-Cola, commonly a household item is quite dangerous! It has so many chemicals in it that you could use it to clean your toilet, remove tar from your vehicle, and can dissolve meat. Lisa suggested an experiment to do with Coke, take a baby tooth and drop it into a glass of coke and it will most likely dissolve the tooth within 24 hours.
Water is one the best options when it comes to drinking! However, bottled water is not all that it is cracked up to be. It goes through many processes to become purified and the longer the water sits in the plastic bottle, the more chemicals it is exposed to. The idea of reusing plastic bottles to help the environment is good in thought, but can be detrimental to your health; your best option is to buy a reusable container to keep your drinks in. Drinking unsweetened ice tea and juice is good in small amounts. Juice often contains a lot of sugar, which is not good for you.
Here are a few small, but beneficial tips concerning the different types of food that you keep in your home. Pay attention to the type of bread that you buy, bread is mostly sugar, which is not good for you. Keep an eye out for the types of cereal that you are consuming, Lisa spoke of a study that was done on lab rats. The rats that ate extruded cereal died, and the rats that ate the boxes of the cereal lived. In mostly all cases, it is better to cook food from scratch, which can be time consuming but it is extremely beneficial for your health. According to Lisa, you don’t need to be 90 pounds to be considered malnourished, you could be overweight and eating the wrong things. If you’re going to eat fast food, try eating Subway which is an ok alternative or chose the salad option but skip the dressing.
Going Green in Your Home
Doing different things in your home can help you “go green,” it doesn’t have to be just the way you eat and take care of your lawn. When Lisa and Mark moved into their home in Lancaster, they wanted to have hardwood floors for many reasons. Carpeting contains a lot of chemicals and it acts as a sponge, absorbing all different kinds of bacteria and germs. Having hardwood floor is better for your health. It doesn’t trap the allergens like carpet, and it doesn’t harbor dust mites or mold. Having carpet in your home traps everything you bring in from the outside inside, such as chemicals and toxins. When picking out a hardwood floor, pick something that is sustainable like cork or bamboo. Sometimes you may have to have some carpet in your home because you have children that play on the floor. If you are going to pick any type of carpet pick a hemp rug, or a silk rug. They may be more expensive options, but they will pay off in the long run. Hemp rugs are very easy to clean, a wool rug has natural fibers but no stain guard, and a silk rug is a natural repellent but is the most costly.
Cleaning products are a must in every home, but the Jurgensen’s take a more natural route with cleaning. They don’t use Lysol wipes, Clorox wipes and they try to avoid hand sanitizer if they can. Lisa described one of her pet peeves as to when people use the hand sanitizing wipes at grocery stores to wipe off the cart; she was very passionate about how germs are good for you. The Jurgensens highly recommended that using soap and water is the best way to kill the bad germs that are on your skin. Tea tree oil and garlic are two other natural products that can kill the bad germs. Vinegar and baking soda are two good products used in cleaning that are easy on the environment and your health.
Here are a few products that are bad for you and the planet:
- Lysol, Lysol contains some of the same chemicals that were in used in Agent Orange. Agent Orange was a herbicide used during the Vietnam War that caused many deaths, sicknesses and birth defects.
- Cottonelle, which contains some of the same components as lighter fluid.
The Jurgenson’s are believers that natural medicine, in most cases, can be better than taking antibiotics or a simple pill for headache medication. America is very dependent upon medication, when in reality there are several things we can do in replace of constantly taking medicine. Homeopathy is when a practitioner looks at the patients problems and examines them as a whole rather, looking at potential causes for the problem rather than only looking at the symptoms. Conventional medicine treats the patient based on their symptoms, and according to Lisa has the mentality of “put a band-aid on problem.” Holistic medicine looks at preventative causes, how your actions can be changed and then the healing process begins.
The Jurgensen’s use a homeopathy kids kit, which contains different types of homeopathic remedies for children.
- Aconitum Napellus- helps with the initial stages of fevers and inflammations with a dry cold, anxiety, restlessness and thirst.
- Arnica Montana- Muscular soreness due to overexertion.
- Belladonna- Used for flushing heat and throbbing pain, also for a sore throat, cough, aches and fever
- Chamomilla- Hypersensitivity to pain, rheumatic discomfort, sleeplessness, nervousness, relives colic and teething pain in children
- Ferrum Phos- helps the lungs distribute oxygen throughout the body; it is also useful for sore throats as well as a stuffy nose. It can also help with nosebleeds or muscular strain. This should be used at the first sight of a fever.
- Hepar Sulphuris Calcareum- Helps localize inflammation; it brings a boil to a head. It can also help treat croup, certain head colds and laryngitis.
Another thing you could try at home that the Jurgensen’s do is a nasal cleansing pot, it helps to clear out your nasal passages. It helps clear the nasals for clearer breathing, it helps rid mucous, and it reduces nasal dryness and can help with allergens. There are other forms of alternative medicine as well, such as different types of oils which can be used for different things.
Here is a list of a few oils that the Jurgensen family has in their home:
- Rosemary, this can be used as a brain stimulant, which can help clear the mind and be used to increase your memory; it is also thought to help cure headaches. If used on the skin it can help with swelling, redness and acne
- Lemon oil, this can also help to reduce stress as well as help those who have a hard time falling asleep because it has such a calming smell. It also has a high vitamin content, which can improve the immune system. Lemon oil is also helpful for stomach aches, and it also helpful in reducing weight.
- Lavender oil can help the skin, abscesses, acne, redness and swelling. It is good for the circulation in your body, and it is also good for your respiratory system. It is also helpful with the digestive system and it works well at calming nerves.
- Peppermint oil is helpful with the digestive system. It is also very helpful with dental care, it can improve bad breath and helps teeth and gums fight germs. The menthol smell that is in peppermint is good for the respiratory system and can clear a stuffy nose. Peppermint oil is also good for helping with irritable bowel syndrome.
- Meditation oil, this is a great stress reliever and can help eliminate toxins and bacteria as well as stress and fatigue.
The Jurgensens used Amish families as examples in the case of using products such as sunscreen, which most doctors and organizations instill it in consumer’s heads that it’s vital. However, the Amish often use no sunscreen and are constantly in the sun, in the dirt and drink raw milk and they are some of the healthiest people around.
Some alternatives to medicine the Jurgensens use are:
- Instead of taking Tylenol or Advil, try a warm bath, a hold or cold pad; try reflexology methods, a massage or a cup of tea with honey and lemon.
- For a stomach ache try ginger and certain teas
- Concerning diarrhea, drink a lot of liquids because it could cause dehydration. For the most part, there isn’t much you can do for this because the body is flushing out your system for a reason.
Acupuncture is also another form of alternative medicine, it is act of trying to restore someone’s health by stimulating parts of the body with thin, metallic needles. Acupuncture is thought to release chemicals in the body that are producing unwanted effects.
Reflexology is also another form of alternative medicine; it is the act of applying pressure to feet and hands with specific hand techniques. There are several benefits to reflexology; one of the main benefits is stress reduction. The feet and hands are two areas of the body, which retain a lot of stress. There are also other benefits of reflexology, such as: pain reduction, stress relief, relaxation, helps the body’s circulation, easier birthing techniques, help tired feet rejuvenate, and it can help cancer patients with nausea, pain and anxiety.
Among all of these amazing things that the Jurgensens do, they also recycle! They recycle plastics, glass, paper, cardboard and almost anything else you can think of. They take turns with their neighbors dropping off recyclables that can’t be recycled here in Lancaster.
The Jurgensen family is a very, “green” family! However, they both admit that their lifestyle was something that had to be worked at. They both admit to still having their downfalls of loving sweets, but they encourage anyone to live the way they do. Lisa encourages people to take the changing process one day at a time it will be easier to make the drastic changes rather than doing it all at once. Tomorrow, why don’t you try to give up one processed food, or one can of soda and then after sometime you can start building your own compost bin and start practicing alternative medicine!