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February 22, 2013

Eat this, not that

Popular radio personality talks about healthy living at Keep Athens Beautiful ‘Organically Speaking’ Event

Athens —

You are what you eat.

Speaking to an audience of around 150 gathered Thursday night at the Cain Center for Keep Athens Beautiful’s “Organically Speaking” event, Rebecca Miller discussed her journey into an organic lifestyle and presented some of the research she has used in her studies on the topic.

She told the group that living organically has made a difference in her health, her garden and her weight.

“But I don’t want you to just believe everything I have to say,” said Miller. “I want you to walk away doubting everything I tell you and I want you to do your own research.

Miller is a familiar face in North Texas after working two decades as a television meteorologist, first for 17 years at KXAS/Channel 5 and then at KDAF/Channel 33. These days, Miller is the co-host of a radio show “Living Natural First.” She is also a master gardener and holds a master’s degree in homeland security.

Miller talked about eliminating chemicals in the garden and processed foods in the kitchen.

Organically Speaking was the first of two events this weekend for KAB. The second event will be the annual Home and Garden Show, which is scheduled for Saturday at the Cain Center.

Miller, the daughter of a chemist/physician who grew up in Louisiana, has been living the organic lifestyle for several years.

“I have found that our lawns are being poisoned, our food is being poisoned and our bodies are being poisoned,” said Miller.

While the audience enjoyed an organic dinner made by Austin chef Amanda Love, The Barefoot Cook, Miller shared the benefits of and ideas for going organic with the audience.

In the garden, she said creating an organic environment builds a place where healthy foods can be grown, and can use up to 60 percent less water than a chemically treated lawn if done correctly.

Many of the problems in lawns, such as weeds and harmful insects, can be solved by creating a balanced, organic environment, said Miller. And many of the chemicals used in pesticides have been banned in other countries or have been shown to have effects on the human system.

First, she suggested, gardeners should stop using chemical agents.

The second step, she said, should involve getting a soil test done to determine what chemical imbalances are in the soil.

Third, knowing what to plant is essential. Miller suggested asking the gardening experts at an organic nursery to determine what plants should be used.

And fourth, she said, find organic solutions to lawn issues. For example, Miller noted, sprinkling a thin layer of organic compost on the soil twice a year will go miles toward correcting soil problems. Orange Oil can help protect plants and molasses can be a good source of energy for growing plants.

In the kitchen, she advocated a diet of 75 percent vegetables balanced out with organically raised proteins.

“I hear people say ‘but it’s so expensive.’ It’s not that expensive and there are plenty of places you can buy organic,” said Miller.

To eat organically, Miller suggested avoiding prepackaged foods and soft drinks completely.

“I read the labels to know what is in food,” said Miller.

She also advocated avoiding genetically modified organisms. GMO foods, as they are commonly known, involve taking a plant and replacing part of its genetic structure to make it resistant to herbicides and pesticides.

Common GMO foods include corn, canola, soy, Hawaiian papaya, sugar beets and cottonseed. Instead, use organic coconut oil and olive oil for cooking, eat real butter instead of margarine and choose organic produce and foods labeled non-GMO.

She also suggested eating meats that are not processed and have not been treated with hormones and antibiotics.

“Just try this for a week and see how you feel,” said Miller. “I want to you not eat the crap.”

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