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Organic Food

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Organic Seasoning

Source: https://fooderyboston.com/organic-herbs-spices/

Nowadays, the majority of the conversation around organic versus conventional foods tends to be centered around meats and produce.  But nearly every time we cook, go to a restaurant or use meal delivery there are key ingredients  utilized to enhance the flavors of our foods – yes, I’m referring to herbs and spices.  When we were developing the quality standards for our healthy meal delivery service back in 2012, it quickly became apparent that utilizing only organic herbs and spices was the only way to go.  So here’s what you should know about conventional versus organic herbs and spices.
1)      Let’s not forget that herbs and spices are derived from plants and are exposed to pests, bacteria and other contaminants as they’re grown.  To combat these issues, conventional farming practices incorporate wide-spread pesticide use.  So it’s the same story and the same issues we’ve been hearing about regarding the produce we consume.  Purchasing organic herbs & spices is the only way to insure that what you’re consuming hasn’t been tainted with pesticides, chemicals or genetic modification.
2)      But it doesn’t stop there.  The manufacturing process for conventional herbs and spices includes more controversial and potentially harmful practices.  One is a sterilization process that utilizes the toxic chemical ethylene oxide- a chemical that’s been associated with central nervous system effects and cancer in workers that have extensive exposure to it.  Another practice called irradiation is actually something that’s very common in the food industry in general.  Irradiation utilizes ionizing radiation to eliminate potential contaminants in herb, spices and other foods potentially creating carcinogenic by-products in the process.  Ethylene oxide and irradiation can both be avoided by purchasing organic herbs and spices.  Organic spice companies utilize a variety of other methods to eliminate bacteria- steaming, freezing and sun-drying are some of the most prevalent.
3)      On a recent search for adobo spice, we came across a conventionally-produced brand containing MSG (monosodium glutamate) – a common flavor enhancer that according to our friend Dr. Mercola is “the silent killer lurking in your kitchen cabinets”.  This substance is on The Foodery’s and Whole Foods’ banned ingredients lists.  The point is that conventional herbs and spices contain all kinds of fillers, preservatives and artificial flavors utilized to lower manufacturing cost and enhance flavor which may be lost in the manufacturing process.  You won’t have these issues with organic herbs and spices.
4)      Lastly, organic herbs and spices are easy to find.  Yes, they absolutely cost more, but not having the pesticide, chemical and irradiation exposure makes them completely worth it.  Most groceries stores carry them, and they can be bought in bulk online at shops like Frontiercoop.com and Mountainroseherbs.com – two of our favorites.  Keep in mind that herbs and spices can last up anywhere from 1-3 years, so purchasing in bulk (4 oz versus 1oz) may work for some of your most utilized ones like pepper, oregano, basil and onion powder to name a few.  Your favorite farm-to-table restaurants and healthy meal delivery services should be using these as well, so it’s always important to ask them about their quality standard for herbs and spices.

 

 

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Sun Organic Farm

Source: http://www.sunorganicfarm.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=BEA

The bottom number is not shown in the Organic Bean category.
Store Organic Dried Beans, Lentils and Peas for up to a year, well sealed, in a cool dry area. Moisture is more harmful to storage than temperature.
One cup of Organic Dried Beans makes 2-3 cups of cooked beans.

Beans are high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Eating beans regularly may decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, colorectal cancer, and helps with weight management. Beans are hearty, helping you feel full so you will tend to eat less.

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Tips for Keeping Organic Produce Fresh

Source: http://www.organicangels.com/blog/tips-keeping-organic-produce-fresh/

Separate them!
Certain types of fruits and vegetables do not mix well in storage, as some emit ethylene, a gaseous hormone emitted by plants. Certain foods don’t do well with ethylene around and can spoil faster when stored near your ethylene-producing fruits and veggies inside the same compartment.
Your highest ethylene producers are apricots, cantaloupe, figs, honeydew, bananas, tomatoes, avocadoes, nectarines, peaches, pears and plums.
Store these fruits & veggies in the fridge
Layered
In the fruit compartment you can safely store apples, apricots, cantaloupe, figs and honeydew melon.
Unlayered
You should spread your blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries out into single layers to keep them from rotting at contact points where moisture gathers. For the same reason, do not wash them until ready for consumption.
Some of your vegetables will keep best in separate plastic bags. These include broccoli, lettuce, peas, cauliflower, carrots, peas, radishes and corn. Even green onions like to be stored cool and separate in the fridge.
Store this produce in a paper bag
Mushrooms and okra like their own space in paper bags. So do artichokes, asparagus, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cherries, grapes, green beans, lima beans, leeks, plums, spinach, summer squash, yellow squash and zucchini. Herbs collected fresh from the garden or purchased at the store are also best stored in paper bags.
Countertop warriors
Thanks to their hardier constitutions and external structure, some fruits and veggies stay fresh on the countertop. These include basil, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, ginger, grapefruit, jicama, lemons, limes, mangoes, oranges, papayas, peppers, persimmon, pineapple, plantains, pomegranates and watermelon.
Squash and potatoes
Keep acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkins, spaghetti squash, and winter squash in a cool, dry environment. Same goes for potatoes and sweet potatoes. Always keep onions and potatoes away from each other! They produce gases that make each other spoil.
A special case for apples…
Keep apples out of direct sunlight. They can be stored on the countertop, in an uncovered bowl or inside a bag with air holes. Many people like to store them in the refrigerator so that they stay cold and crisp.
Depending on timing…
Keep avocadoes, nectarines, peaches, pears and plums either on the counter or in the fridge depending on ripeness. Kiwi can be stored in both places as well.
More about ethylene
Understand that ethylene is, by itself, not harmful to your health. It is odorless and tasteless and has no adverse side effects on your body. But it does work as a food ripener and therefore works against keeping produce fresh. When you want food to ripen quicker, you can actually use ethylene to your advantage by pairing ethylene-producing foods with foods that need to ripen.
Keeping produce fresh is more than a convenience for consumption. It is also an important money saver. It is estimated by the United States Department of Agriculture that an American family tosses out about 470 pounds (over 200kg) of food per year. That’s nearly 15 percent of all the food brought into the home, about $600 worth. That’s largely because so much food “goes bad” from neglect or improper storage. If you total it all up, Americans dump about $3 billion worth of food every year.
About the author:
Chris Bekermeier is Vice President, Sales & Marketing of PacMoore in Hammond, IN. PacMoore is a contract manufacturer focused on processing dry ingredients for the food & pharmaceutical industries. Capabilities include blending, spray drying, re-packaging, sifting, & consumer packaging.

 

 

 

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History of Organic

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Wax worm caterpillar will eat plastic shopping bags: New solution to plastic waste?

Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170424141338.htm

Generally speaking, plastic is incredibly resistant to breaking down. That’s certainly true of the trillion polyethylene plastic bags that people use each and every year. But researchers reporting in Current Biology on April 24 may be on track to find a solution to plastic waste. The key is a caterpillar commonly known as a wax worm.
“We have found that the larva of a common insect, Galleria mellonella, is able to biodegrade one of the toughest, most resilient, and most used plastics: polyethylene,” says Federica Bertocchini of the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain. A previous study (doi: 10.1021/es504038a) has shown that Plodia interpunctella wax worms, the larvae of dian mealmoths, can also digest plastic.
Bertocchini and her colleagues made the discovery quite by accident, after noticing that plastic bags containing wax worms quickly became riddled with holes. Further study showed that the worms can do damage to a plastic bag in less than an hour.
After 12 hours, all that munching of plastic leads to an obvious reduction in plastic mass. The researchers showed that the wax worms were not only ingesting the plastic, they were also chemically transforming the polyethylene into ethylene glycol. This is suspected to be the case in Plodia interpunctella as well.
Although wax worms wouldn’t normally eat plastic, the researchers suspect that their ability is a byproduct of their natural habits. Wax moths lay their eggs inside beehives. The worms hatch and grow on beeswax, which is composed of a highly diverse mixture of lipid compounds. The researchers say the molecular details of wax biodegradation require further investigation, but it’s likely that digesting beeswax and polyethylene involves breaking down similar types of chemical bonds.
“Wax is a polymer, a sort of ‘natural plastic,’ and has a chemical structure not dissimilar to polyethylene,” Bertocchini says.
As the molecular details of the process become known, the researchers say it could be used to devise a biotechnological solution to managing polyethylene waste. They’ll continue to explore the process in search of such a strategy.
“We are planning to implement this finding into a viable way to get rid of plastic waste, working towards a solution to save our oceans, rivers, and all the environment from the unavoidable consequences of plastic accumulation,” Bertocchini says. “However,” she adds, “we should not feel justified to dump polyethylene deliberately in our environment just because we now know how to bio-degrade it.”

 

 

 

 

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5 Ways to Fertilize Your Organic Garden

Source: http://gardenclub.homedepot.com/5-ways-fertilize-organic-garden/

Compost. Compost can be purchased in bags or created in a compost pile or composter in the backyard. By combining kitchen scraps, grass clippings, leaves, straw, shredded newspaper, and disease-free garden plants, it’s easy to transform everyday materials into a nutrient-rich supplement for your garden soil.
Fertilizer Tea. Also called “compost tea,” fertilizer tea is a nutrient-laden liquid made by steeping aged compost in water for three to four days. The key is in using compost that is broken down into tiny particles dark in color, has the texture of cornmeal, and emits a fragrance similar to forest soil. Use it to water plants or spray onto foliage.
Dry Fertilizers. These fertilizers come in granules or pellets, and are broadcast on the soil surface, added into planting holes, or spread around transplants. Organic dry fertilizers are non-burning and will not harm the roots of delicate seedlings.
Liquid Fertilizers. Typically concentrates, liquid fertilizers will need to be mixed with water before applying. Read the label to ensure proper ratios, then apply to foliage or the roots of your plants. Fertilizing in this way gives plants a quick and light boost every couple of weeks during the growing season. Examples include compost tea and seaweed.
Grass Clippings. Ever heard of the “don’t bag it” slogan? This refers to the practice of leaving your grass clippings on the lawn or reusing them in the garden rather than bagging them up for disposal. Grass clippings are high in nitrogen and are very effective fertilizers when applied in thin layers. Add them to the compost pile, dig them into the soil in your vegetable garden, or lay a layer of clippings around mature trees and shrubs.

 

 

 

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Planting a Herb Garden

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Vanessa teaching us about raised garden bed.

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Raw Food Diets

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10 Sources of good sugar

Source: http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/827623/10-sources-of-good-sugar

With 25.8 million US children and adults with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), watching your sugar intake means more than curbing your candy habit. So what do you do when you have a hankering for something sweet? Whether you’re living with diabetes or changing your diet to help prevent diabetes, learning about how to reach for “good sugar” is a healthy choice. From honey to agave nectar, get the skinny on these 10 sources of good sugar.

Apples have a low glycemic index number based on glucose, which measures how fast a food is likely to cause your blood sugar levels to rise. Crunching on one of these before bed or during mild activity will keep your blood sugar from dropping.
Honey

Honey is sweeter than refined sugar, which means you may need less to sweeten your food. However, be aware that honey still contains a significant amount of sugar and should be used in moderation.

Think you know honey? Test your knowledge with honey trivia >>
Bananas
This on-the-go fruit is a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, and has a medium range on the glycemic index. For those who follow the glycemic index, you’ll have to estimate your glucose intake, since bananas can vary widely in size.
Agave nectar
Also known as the source of tequila, the agave plant provides a natural source of sugar, and is a great alternative to artificial sweeteners.
Learn the health benefits of agave nectar >>
Pineapples
Fresh, frozen or canned fruits with no added sugars are the best good sources of sugar. When you crave something sweet, try a small serving of juicy pineapple, which packs a lot of sugar in small amounts.
Carrots
Boiled or fresh, carrots pack a lot of satisfying crunch, along with good sugar.
Beets
Canned beets are easy to prepare and can help you maintain your blood sugar while satisfying your need for good sugar.
Discover ways to choose healthier food options for every meal >>
Yogurt
Even though plain yogurt contains some sugar, the healthy benefits of this calcium- and probiotic-rich food make it a good source of sugar.
Prunes
Another fruit with a low glycemic index, prunes are a great source of antioxidants as well as potassium, giving this chewy snack its “super fruit” nickname.
Whole wheat bread
Carbohydrates plays an active role in your blood sugar levels, so counting carbs as well as sugars is important. Opt for stone-ground whole wheat bread over its more-processed fine-ground wheat or white bread cousin.
“We’ve seen that diabetes has been on the rise for quite a while, but the new data from the CDC is a real wake-up call,” says Robert R. Henry, MD, president, Medicine & Science, American Diabetes Association, in a recent press release. “One in four Americans living with diabetes is still undiagnosed, highlighting how essential it is for Americans to know if they are at risk and take action, if needed.” So even if you haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes, you don’t have to eat diet food to prevent development of this disease; simply managing your glucose intake, exercising and reaching for good sources of sugar can help stack the numbers in your favor — and it’s never too late to start!

 

Keep Plants Pest-Free Naturally

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Clean food movement news: Carrageenan about to be banned from organic food

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/056142_carrageenan_organic_food_ingredients.html#ixzz4WyFvEF6J

Source:

(NaturalNews) According to the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the commonly utilized emulsifier carrageenan will not be allowed as an ingredient in organic food by 2018. You see it in so many products lately, from coconut milk, almond milk and soy milk, to coffee creamers, ice cream, cottage cheese, deli meat and even infant formula (Similac). Yeah, it’s pretty gross too. Used as a thickening agent, this inflammatory and possibly carcinogenic additive does not belong in food at all, especially organic food.

If you’ve ever bought coffee creamer with carrageenan in it and kept it for more than about 10 days, you’ll have noticed a stringy coagulation of gooey gunk at the bottom. That’s the “food grade” carrageenan. Extracted from red seaweed, carrageenan has unique chemical bonds not found in other seaweeds or gums that affect the body in detrimental ways, including triggering an immune reaction that leads to inflammation in the gastrointestinal system. There are two forms of carrageenan, food-grade (or undegraded) and degraded, the latter of which is used in thousands of scientific studies to purposely cause inflammation and disease in lab animals. Make no mistake though, both forms are harmful to humans.

For 40 years, scientists have warned that carrageenan in food is not safe
Animal studies and in-vitro studies with human cells have shown over and over that food-grade carrageenan causes gastrointestinal inflammation and higher rates of intestinal lesions, ulcerations and cancerous tumors. The main problem with food-grade carrageenan is that the acidic environment of the stomach degrades it, exposing the intestines to a this potent cancerous agent. It adds zero nutritional value to foods, but it’s a food industry favorite substitute for fat – as a thickening agent.

Carrageenan recreates that “mouth-feel” for many thickened dairy products, like yogurt, sour cream and ice cream. It also works as a stabilizer for drinks that separate, like chocolate milk or nutritional shakes (how ironic, since it’s anti-nutritional).

Get this: it’s even used in meats, like processed deli meats and even prepared chicken. Gross! Food processors inject it as a brine in precooked chicken and turkey in order to maintain “juiciness” and improve the “tenderness.” It also helps bind sliced meat.

Due to its unique chemical structure, when any form of carrageenan enters the body, an innate immune response may be triggered, warning your system of a dangerous invader. For daily consumers of carrageenan, inflammation becomes a constant and catapults diseases over time. Chronic inflammation can lead to cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

It gets worse. Scientists have also discovered that carrageenan inhibits the production of beneficial enzymes in human cells and impairs insulin action. Many food manufacturers falsely claim that only degraded carrageenan is harmful to humans, but they’re wrong.

Transcripts posted by Cornucopia Institute from the National Organic Standards Board Meeting in St. Louis on November 18th, 2016
Carrageenan has officially been removed from the National List of ingredients allowed in certified organic food! At the NOSB meeting, a presentation was given that summarized over 3,000 public comments on the issue and scientific research was presented, discussing how consumer trust in the organic label is eroding, thanks to harmful ingredients like carrageenan. One organic farmer and representative spoke up and said that they make ice cream without carrageenan and consumers appreciate it. People are reporting significant improvements in their gastrointestinal health after cutting carrageenan completely out of their diet.

Carrageenan was first approved by NOSB in the mid-1990s based on corporate-supplied information (we all know how unreliable that is). Corporate “shills” have infiltrated the FDA, the USDA and even the NOSB. Lobbyists for Monsanto and other evil corporations exert their influence (in the form of cash and luxurious gifts) to influence legislation regarding US food standards – even organic.

Finally, this past spring, Cornucopia, several farmer and consumer groups, and independent expert scientists testified at NOSB that carrageenan simply doesn’t meet the criteria defined in the Organic Foods Production Act.

The carrageenan industry suppressed research for decades about the dangers of the thickening agent
For 20 years or more, most organic food companies thought the seaweed-based “natural” food was safe, especially because disturbing and damaging research was suppressed by industry smear campaigns. Even peer-reviewed research was hidden from consumer eyes. Now, Cornucopia has developed a guide to assist consumers who want to avoid even certain “organic” foods that compromise their health. Are you suffering from gastrointestinal symptoms, a spastic colon, IBS, chronic diarrhea or just basic inflammation? Try eliminating carrageenan from your intake. It might be that little difference that matters a whole lot!

Natural Bliss brand coffee creamer is a good start. It’s one of the only creamers out there that doesn’t contain soy or carrageenan, and it’s non-GMO. That’s a start. Check it out if you’re an avid coffee drinker. And remember, not everything organic is good for you. Be a smart consumer and stay informed

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/056142_carrageenan_organic_food_ingredients.html#ixzz4WyFgJMaR

 

 

 

 

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Are Preservatives Bad For You

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Why does organic milk last so much longer than regular milk?

Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/experts-organic-milk-lasts-longer/

If you’ve ever shopped for milk, you’ve no doubt noticed what our questioner has: While regular milk expires within about a week or sooner, organic milk lasts much longer—as long as a month.

So what is it about organic milk that makes it stay fresh so long?

Actually, it turns out that it has nothing to do with the milk being organic. All “organic” means is that the farm the milk comes from does not use antibiotics to fight infections in cows or hormones to stimulate more milk production.

Organic milk lasts longer because producers use a different process to preserve it. According to the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, the milk needs to stay fresh longer because organic products often have to travel farther to reach store shelves since it is not produced throughout the country.

The process that gives the milk a longer shelf life is called ultrahigh temperature (UHT) processing or treatment, in which milk is heated to 280 degrees Fahrenheit (138 degrees Celsius) for two to four seconds, killing any bacteria in it.

Compare that to pasteurization, the standard preservation process. There are two types of pasteurization: “low temperature, long time,” in which milk is heated to 145 degrees F (63 degrees C) for at least 30 minutes*, or the more common “high temperature, short time,” in which milk is heated to roughly 160 degrees F (71 degrees C) for at least 15 seconds.

The different temperatures hint at why UHT-treated milk lasts longer: Pasteurization doesn’t kill all bacteria in the milk, just enough so that you don’t get a disease with your milk mustache. UHT, on the other hand, kills everything.

Retailers typically give pasteurized milk an expiration date of four to six days. Ahead of that, however, was up to six days of processing and shipping, so total shelf life after pasteurization is probably up to two weeks. Milk that undergoes UHT doesn’t need to be refrigerated and can sit on the shelf for up to six months.

Regular milk can undergo UHT, too. The process is used for the room-temperature Parmalat milk found outside the refrigerator case and for most milk sold in Europe.

So why isn’t all milk produced using UHT?

One reason is that UHT-treated milk tastes different. UHT sweetens the flavor of milk by burning some of its sugars (caramelization). A lot of Americans find this offensive—just as they are leery of buying nonrefrigerated milk. Europeans, however, don’t seem to mind.

UHT also destroys some of the milk’s vitamin content—not a significant amount—and affects some proteins, making it unusable for cheese.

There are, of course, lots of reasons people buy organic milk. But if it’s the long shelf life you’re after, I would recommend you buy nonorganic UHT milk and avoid being charged double.

 

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Natural and Organic Food
Learn the differences between natural and organic food.

Source: http://topics.info.com/Natural-and-Organic-Food_601
any consumers do not understand the difference between natural and organic food.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, only a small segment of the population — mainly young, health-conscious, urban professionals — shopped at natural and organic food stores. Recently, however, more people have started buying organic food. Even superstores like Walmart and Target sell natural and organic food to the mass market.
Even with the growth of the organic food industry, many people are still unclear about what organic food is and its advantages over other foods. Simply put, organic food is grown without the use of chemicals. Organic farming uses methods like crop rotation, tilling and intercropping that neither diminish the soil nor hurt the environment. Organic farming methods result in a nutrient-rich soil that nourishes the plants, thus eliminating the need for chemicals.
Organic foods come in two varieties: processed and farm-fresh. Processed foods with the label “organic” have limited additives or preservatives. Farm-fresh products with the label “organic” have no chemicals in them.
How to Identify Organic Food
The easiest way to find out if a food product is organic is to check its label. A “certified organic” label is usually the only way for consumers to ensure that a food product (farm-fresh or processed) is organic.
The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines and regulates the use and meaning of the term organic. Only foods grown and processed following the USDA’s organic standards can be labeled as organic. An organic certification program established by the USDA dictates that all organic food producers must follow stringent government norms. These norms standardize how organic foods are grown, handled and processed. Any farmer or manufacturer that sells more than $5,000 per year of organic foods must be certified by the USDA.
An organic food product can have any of the following seals:
100 percent organic: These products are completely organic or made from all organic ingredients.
Organic: These products are at least 95 percent organic.
Made with organic ingredients: These products contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. The organic seal cannot be used on these packages.
Any food containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients cannot use the organic seal or the word “organic” on its product label. However, such food items can include organic items in their ingredients list.
Natural versus Organic Food
A common misconception is that the terms natural and organic are interchangeable. Natural food refers to food items that are not altered chemically. Thus, food becomes artificial when additions are made to alter its natural form. Here lies the difference between natural and organic food.
The strict standard that organic farmers have to adhere to ensures the quality of their products. Unlike organic food, natural food has no measure of standard, which can make the use of this term in marketing misleading. In fact, a product with the label “natural” can actually contain harmful pesticides and herbicides.
Advantages of Organic Food
Chemical-free: Conventional farmers use chemicals to safeguard their crops from insects and various diseases. These chemicals leave residue on the crops which, when ingested by humans, can result in various health problems. Organic foods are better for consumers because organic farmers adopt a chemical-free farming method that makes it healthier for consumption. Additionally, organic farming is less harmful for farmers. In conventional farming, farmers are exposed to numerous chemicals that can seriously damage their health. Farmers working at non-organic farms are prone to cancer, respiratory problems and other major diseases.
Environmentally-friendly: Organic farmers use environmentally-friendly farming methods that not only help in water and soil conservation but also help to reduce pollution.
Disadvantages of Organic Food
Cost factor: Organic foods are still costlier than conventional food products due to time consuming farming practices, low yields and strict government standards. Nevertheless, many consumers believe that the benefits of organic food make up for its high cost.
Shelf life: Organic food is more perishable than its conventional counterparts. Organic food spoils faster because it is not coated with preservatives.
Organic Food Facts
The USDA Organic certification started in 2002.
Conventionally-grown fruit contains more than 20 pesticides. Even after washing, a conventionally grown apple has almost 20-30 artificial substances on its peel.
Organic food is much richer in vitamins, minerals and fiber than conventionally produced food and also retains levels of nutrients better. On average, fresh organic produce contains almost 50 percent more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other micronutrients than conventionally farmed produce.

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Problems with organic growing: Can organic farming feed the world?

Source: http://tiki.oneworld.net/food/organic_advantages.html
Many studies indicate that yields from organic farms are around 20 percent less for many important food crops. The reasons for this are twofold: lack of nitrogen in the soil and crop rotation. This means that at any one time, about a fifth of farmland is not producing food because it has to be sown with soil-building cover crops and nitrogen-fixing leguminous plants to restore fertility
Organic food is usually more expensive.
Organic farmers are missing out on all kinds of useful traits which genetic engineering offers (like disease, pest and drought resistance, greater yields and many more). Why? Because organic regulations ban anything which involves genetic engineering of any type including the precision technique called CRISPR. But this ban seems to be based on conviction rather than on scientific evidence. It doesn’t have to be like this — here’s A co-existence peace plan for GMOs and organics

 

 

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More of the good stuff, less of the bad

Source: http://www.organic.org/home/faq

http://www.organic.org/home/faq
Organic means working with nature, not against it. It means higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides, no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilizers and more environmentally sustainable management of the land and natural environment – this means more wildlife!

The Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the National Organic Program (NOP). The NOP regulations include a definition of “organic” and provide for certification that agricultural ingredients have been produced under conditions that would meet the definition. They also include labeling standards based on the percentage of organic ingredients in food.

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

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5 Ways to Eat Local Food Even During the Winter

Source: http://www.organicauthority.com/5-ways-to-eat-local-food-even-during-the-winter/

Eating local food is considered to be one of the best things you can do for the environment and that means eating more locally raised, farmed, harvested and produced meats, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, breads and more. Since it’s wintertime though, you might think that let’s you off the hook for eating healthy and local, but think again. While it may not be feasible with our modern lifestyles to eat 100 percent local food all year round, it’s more possible than you think. A little research, planning and experimentation is all it takes to eating more sustainably all year.
Locavorism is the idea that we should eat as much locally produced food as possible. Recent arguments even contend that eating local can even more positively impact the environment than buying organic produce that is shipped halfway around the world. Of course, the ideal is still to find locally grown and raised foods that haven’t been be treated with pesticides  and have been grown utilizing the most sustainable methods possible. Of course, don’t expect tomatoes in the middle of winter, but branch out and seasonally.
For those who are want to commit to eating more locally, how is it possible to expand your local food opportunities during the winter? Here are a few ideas.

1. Join a CSA
Many CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) grow food all winter long. I’m currently subscribed to a CSA and every two weeks I get a box filled with kale, collards, greens, root vegetables and other hearty winter vegetables. My share also features apples, which are stored in cold storage and fresh herbs, which are grown in a greenhouse. Visit Local Harvest to find a CSA near you.
2. Grow Your Own Food Inside
While it’s not realistic to grow a whole garden’s worth of food indoors, it is possible to supplement your diet of staples with fresh accents. Fresh delicacies like microgreens, sprouts and herbs can easily be grown in sunny windowsills to accompany your hearty winter soups and stews.
3. Cold Frame Growing
One of the techniques farmers use is cold-frame growing. With cold-frame growing, it is possible to extend the growing season for some foods. Learn more at Organic Gardening.
4. Local Food Co-ops and Exchanges
I also suggest doing some research for all year farmers markets, food exchange and food cooperatives. I regularly visit a local food exchange in my community that has fresh local foods delivered by local farmers all year long. Local Harvest is also a great resource for this option.
5. Preserving Food
Finally, there is also the option to can and freeze the bounty of the summer to enjoy in the wintertime. Preserving food is not as difficult as it sounds and the work is worth it. Nothing beats a mid-winter fruit salad made from peaches and berries frozen at  in the summer.

 

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Tips & Tricks – “Planet Natural”
We’ve put together 25 of our favorite organic gardening tips to help you grow a healthier, more productive crop. Enjoy!

Source: https://www.planetnatural.com/organic-gardening-guru/tips/

1. If you can not use finished compost for a while cover the pile with a tarp to avoid leaching the nutrients out of the compost.
2. Companion planting is an excellent way to improve your garden. Some plants replenish nutrients lost by another one, and some combinations effectively keep pests away.
3. Dry your herbs at the end of the summer by tying sprigs together to form small bunches. Tie them together with a rubber band and hang, tips down, in a dry place out of the sun. Keep the bunches small to ensure even circulation. Store dry in labeled canning jars, either whole or crumbled. Freezing is also a good way to preserve herbs.
4. Water in the morning to help avoid powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that are often spread by high humidity.
5. The longer the growing season the more compost is needed in the soil. A longer growing season requires more nutrients and organic matter in the soil.
6. Attract ladybugs to your garden with nectar-producing plants such as parsley, dill and fennel.
Got bugs? At Planet Natural we offer a large selection of natural and organic pest control solutions that are guaranteed SAFE and effective. From beneficial insects to botanical sprays, we only carry the best. Also, visit our Pest Problem Solver for pest pictures, descriptions and a complete list of earth-friendly remedies.
7. Coffee grounds make excellent mulch around acid-loving plants.
8. In general, thinner leaved plants need more water to stay alive, thicker leaved plants need less.
9. Make compost tea by mixing equal parts compost and water and let it sit. Pour this liquid directly onto the soil around healthy, growing plants. Dilute this to 4 parts water to 1 part compost for use on smaller seedlings. Any compost that has not gone into solution can be used to make more tea or used in your garden.
10. New beds require plenty of compost, soil amendments and double digging for that extra kick.
11. Keep dirt off lettuce and cabbage leaves when growing by spreading a 1-2 inch layer of mulch (untreated by pesticides or fertilizers) around each plant. This also helps keep the weeds down.
12. Avoid using railroad ties in or around your vegetable garden; the chemicals used as preservatives are now thought to be toxic and harmful.
13. Milk jugs, soda bottles and other plastic containers make great mini-covers to place over your plants and protect them from frost.
14. Less than 2 percent of the insects in the world are harmful. Most are beneficial.
15. Pinching off flowers frequently encourage most annuals to flower more abundantly.
16. Bats are a great form of natural pest control. Many in North America feed exclusively on insects and eat more than birds and bug zappers combined.

17. When watering, try to water deeply and thoroughly. Frequent, shallow waterings train your plants to keep their roots near the surface, making them less hardy and more likely to suffer when deprived of water.
18. Rotate your crops each year to help reduce pest and disease problems as well as correct nutrient deficiencies and excesses.
19. Pest management begins with healthy soil. It produces healthy plants which are better able to withstand disease and insect damage.
20. Diatomaceous earth makes an excellent organic insecticide – it is an abrasive white powder used to damage the cuticle, skin and joints of insects. It also makes an excellent slug barrier.
21. Botanical insecticides are plant derivatives, and can be more toxic than some synthetics. They are, however, better in the long run because they break down rapidly and do not accumulate in the food chain as synthetics do.
22. Once a seed sprouts it must be kept watered. If it dries out, it dies. If seeds are lightly covered with soil, they may need to be gently sprinkled with water once or twice a day to keep them moist.
23. Earthworms are extremely beneficial to the soil and plants, increasing air space in the soil and leaving behind worm castings. Do everything you can to encourage earthworms in your soil.
24. A garden soil that has been well mulched and amended periodically requires only about a 1 inch layer of compost yearly to maintain its quality.
25. For an organic approach to pest control, build up your soil to encourage beneficial microbes, other soil microorganisms and earthworms. Healthy soil means healthy plants that are better able to resist pests and disease, reducing the need for harmful pesticides.

 

 

 

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Organic Egg Production

Cage-Free Eggs
Cage-free eggs are eggs from birds that are not raised in cages, but in floor systems usually in an open barn. The hens have bedding material such as pine shavings on the floor, and they are allowed perches and nest boxes to lay their eggs. However, they may still be at close quarters with many other hens — just not in cages. That depends on the farm.
Free-Range Eggs
Free-range eggs are laid from hens that have the opportunity to go outside. Smaller farms may keep birds outside under a canopy area. They may travel in and out of a barn at free will or spend some portion of their day roaming outdoors.

 

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Growing Micro Greens and Organic Produce

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Healthy Eating Tips for Kids

 

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After School Snacks

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Organic foods: Are they safer? More nutritious?
Discover the real difference between organic foods and their traditionally grown counterparts when it comes to nutrition, safety and price.

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Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/organic-food/art-20043880
By Mayo Clinic Staff

Once found only in health food stores, organic food is now a regular feature at most supermarkets. And that’s created a bit of a dilemma in the produce aisle.
On one hand, you have a conventionally grown apple. On the other, you have one that’s organic. Both apples are firm, shiny and red. Both provide vitamins and fiber, and both are free of fat, sodium and cholesterol. Which should you choose? Get the facts before you shop.
Conventional vs. organic farming

The word “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution.
Farmers who grow organic produce don’t use conventional methods to fertilize and control weeds. Examples of organic farming practices include using natural fertilizers to feed soil and plants, and using crop rotation or mulch to manage weeds.
Organic or not? Check the label

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification program that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards. These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled and processed.
Any product labeled as organic must be USDA certified. Only producers who sell less than $5,000 a year in organic foods are exempt from this certification; however, they’re still required to follow the USDA’s standards for organic foods.

If a food bears a USDA Organic label, it means it’s produced and processed according to the USDA standards. The seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it.
Products certified 95 percent or more organic may display this USDA seal.
Products that are completely organic — such as fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods — are labeled 100 percent organic and can carry the USDA seal.
Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can use the USDA organic seal plus the following wording, depending on the number of organic ingredients:

100 percent organic. To use this phrase, products must be either completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.
Organic. Products must be at least 95 percent organic to use this term.
Products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients may say “made with organic ingredients” on the label, but may not use the seal. Foods containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients can’t use the seal or the word “organic” on their product labels. They can include the organic items in their ingredient list, however.

Do ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ mean the same thing?

No, “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable terms. You may see “natural” and other terms such as “all natural,” “free-range” or “hormone-free” on food labels. These descriptions must be truthful, but don’t confuse them with the term “organic.” Only foods that are grown and processed according to USDA organic standards can be labeled organic.
Next

 

 

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How to grow herbs inside.

 

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What do organic mean? How do you know it is really organic.

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Simple organic Vegetable Soup Recipe

 

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Recipe courtesy of Organic Prairie beef and black bean chili

Source: http://www.organicitsworthit.org/make/grass-fed-beef-and-black-bean-chili-avocado-and-chipotle-sour-cream

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Chili:

¼ cup olive oil

¼ pound Organic Prairie bacon, finely chopped or ground (to grind, cut into chunks, freeze until firm, then pulse in a food processor)

2 pounds Organic Prairie grass-fed ground beef

1½ tablespoons kosher salt or 1 tablespoon table salt, more to taste

2 cups chopped onion

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons mild chili powder

1 tablespoon smoked paprika (optional)

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (not tomato puree)

2 4-ounce cans mild roasted green chiles

2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1 cup low-sodium beef or chicken broth

2 tablespoons molasses (optional)

Hot sauce, to taste

Toppings:

1 ripe avocado, diced and tossed with a little lime juice and salt

1/2 cup sour cream mixed with 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles (freeze the leftovers)

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until most of the fat is rendered and the bacon pieces are golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Pour off all but around 2 tablespoons of the fat.

Add the beef to the pan, sprinkle on about 2 teaspoons of the salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes, but don’t let the meat get brown and crusty. Scrape the meat from the pan into a bowl; set aside.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan, add the onion and 1 more teaspoon salt. Turn down the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika (if using), cumin, and coriander and cook another minute, stirring and scraping so the spices fry slightly in the oil.

Stir in the crushed tomatoes, green chiles, black beans, chopped cilantro, beef broth, molasses and remaining teaspoon salt, plus as many shakes of hot sauce as you like. Turn the heat to low, and cook, uncovered, until thickened and rich tasting, 45 minutes to an hour. Add back the bacon and beef and simmer another 15 minutes. Taste and add more salt or hot sauce as needed.

Serve the chili in bowls with some avocado piled on top and a generous drizzle of the chipotle cream.

 

 

 

 

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Benefits of Organic Eggs

Source: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/02/why-does-this-commonly-vilified-food-actually-prevent-heart-disease-and-cancer.aspx

The idea that eggs, as a source of saturated fats, are unhealthy and promote heart disease is a complete myth. While it’s true that fats from animal sources contain cholesterol, this is not necessarily something that will harm you. On the contrary, the evidence clearly shows that eggs are one of the most healthful foods you can eat, and can actually help prevent disease, including heart disease.

For example, one 2009 study discovered that the proteins in cooked eggs are converted by gastrointestinal enzymes, producing peptides that act as ACE inhibitors (common prescription medications for lowering blood pressure). This certainly flies in the face of ‘conventional wisdom,’ and the latest findings support the stance that eggs are in fact part of a heart-healthy diet.

Although egg yolks are relatively high in cholesterol, numerous studies have confirmed that eggs have virtually nothing to do with raising your cholesterol. For instance, research published in the International Journal of Cardiology showed that, in healthy adults, eating eggs every day did not produce a negative effect on endothelial function (an aggregate measure of cardiac risk); nor did it increase cholesterol levels.

A number of people have cholesterol levels that are too low. While eating egg yolks is a great idea for a number of reasons, it will not increase your cholesterol level. If you need to do that a fairly reliable method is to use coconut oil. Usually about 2-4 tablespoons a day are required to increase your cholesterol.

The Egg—A Source of Health Promoting Antioxidants!

In the featured study, the researchers examined the nutrient content of egg yolks from hens fed primarily wheat or corn. They determined that the yolks from these conventional chickens contain two amino acids with potent antioxidant properties, which is important for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer:
  1. Tryptophan
  2. Tyrosine
Below, I will discuss the nutrient content of organic, pastured eggs, which is far superior to conventional eggs. What’s really interesting is that conventional eggs, despite their inferior nutritional content still were found to be such a potent source of heart healthy antioxidants!  The analysis showed that two raw egg yolks have antioxidant properties equivalent to half a serving of cranberries (25 grams), and almost twice as many as an apple.The research also illustrates just how destructive cooking is. The antioxidant properties were reduced by about 50 percent when the eggs were fried or boiled, followed by microwaving, which resulted in an even greater reduction.Although not specifically mentioned in the featured study, egg yolks are also a rich source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which belong to the class of carotenoids known as xanthophylls. These two are powerful prevention elements of age-related macular degeneration; the most common cause of blindness.Additionally, as a side note, the amino acid tryptophan is also an important precursor to the brain chemical serotonin, which helps regulate your mood, and tyrosine synthesizes two key neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine, which promote alertness and mental activity. I mention this to remind you that the potential health benefits of eggs certainly go far beyond heart health…
Not All Eggs are Created Equal
Eggs are also an incredible source of high-quality protein and fat—nutrients that many are deficient in. And I believe eggs are a nearly ideal fuel source for most of us.However, there are two caveats:
  1. Free-range or “pastured” organic eggs are far superior when it comes to nutrient content, and
  2. Cooking destroys many of these nutrients, so ideally, you’ll want to consume your eggs raw (but ONLY if they’re pastured organic, as conventionally-raised eggs are far more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria such as salmonella)
An egg is considered organic if the chicken was only fed organic food, which means it will not have accumulated high levels of pesticides from the grains (mostly GM corn) fed to typical chickens.  Additionally, testing has confirmed that true free-range eggs are far more nutritious than commercially raised eggs. In a 2007 egg-testing project, Mother Earth News compared the official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs with eggs from hens raised on pasture and found that the latter typically contains:
  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene
The dramatically superior nutrient levels are most likely the result of the differences in diet between free ranging, pastured hens and commercially farmed hens.
Should You Refrigerate Your Eggs?
Before we get into the issue of eating raw versus cooked eggs, let’s review the ideal storage method for your eggs. Contrary to popular belief, fresh pastured eggs that have an intact cuticle do not require refrigeration, as long as you are going to consume them within a relatively short period of time.This is well known in many other countries, including parts of Europe, and many organic farmers will not refrigerate their eggs. In the U.S., refrigeration of eggs became the cultural norm when mass production caused eggs to travel long distances and sit in storage for weeks to months before arriving at your local supermarket. Additionally, the general lack of cleanliness of factory farms increases the likelihood that your eggs have come into contact with pathogens, amplifying the need for both disinfection and refrigeration.So, if your eggs are fresh from the organic farm, with intact cuticles, and will be consumed within a few days, you can simply leave them on the counter or in a cool cupboard. The shelf life for an unrefrigerated egg is around 7 to 10 days.When refrigerated, they’ll stay fresh for 30-45 days. Keep this in mind when purchasing eggs from your grocery store, as by the time they hit the shelf, they may already be three weeks old, or older… USDA certified eggs will have a pack date and a sell-by date on the carton, so check the label. For more information about the date codes on your egg carton, see this link.
How to Eat Your Eggs for Maximum Health Benefits
Quite a few people are allergic to eggs, but I believe this is because they are cooked. When you heat the egg, the protein changes its chemical shape, and this type of distortion can easily lead to allergies. When consumed in their raw state, the incidence of egg allergy virtually disappears.This distortion may be further magnified depending on the manner in which it’s cooked. Microwaves heat food by causing water molecules in it to resonate at very high frequencies and eventually turn to steam, which heats your food. But it also changes your food’s chemical structure in ways that regular cooking does not.It is my belief that eating eggs raw helps preserve many of the highly perishable nutrients, and the results in the featured study confirms this as raw egg yolk lost about half of its antioxidant potential when boiled, fried, or worse, microwaved. Remember that most of the nutrition in an egg is in the yolk, not the white which is merely protein and many have a texture problem when eating them raw. The yolk on the other hand is loaded with nutrients, like bioflavonoids, brain fats like phosphatidyl choline, powerful antioxidants and sulfur.  I have four raw egg yolks almost every day and throw away the whites as I don’t need the extra protein, but one can soft boil or poach them  I personally put my raw egg yolks over a bed of dehydrated kale and cucumber pulp left over from juicing, along with a whole avocado and some chopped red onions.If you choose not to eat your eggs raw, poached or soft-boiled is your next best option. Aside from microwaving, scrambling your eggs is one of the worst ways to cook them as it oxidizes the cholesterol in the egg yolk, which may in fact harm your health.
What about the Risk of Salmonella?
The CDC and other public health organizations advise you to thoroughly cook your eggs to lower your risk of salmonella, but as long as they’re pastured and organic, eating your eggs raw is actually the best in terms of your health.The salmonella risk is primarily heightened when the hens are raised in unsanitary conditions, which is extremely rare for small organic farms where the chickens are raised in clean, spacious coops, have access to sunlight, and forage for their natural food. The salmonella risk can be high in conventional eggs, however, which is why I advise against eating conventional eggs raw. One study by the British government found that 23 percent of farms with caged hens tested positive for salmonella, compared to just over 4 percent in organic flocks and 6.5 percent in free-range flocks.
How to Find Fresh Pastured Organic Eggs
The key to getting high quality eggs is to buy them locally, either from an organic farm or farmers market.  Fortunately, finding organic eggs locally is far easier than finding raw milk as virtually every rural area has individuals with chickens. Farmers markets are a great way to meet the people who produce your food. With face-to-face contact, you can get your questions answered and know exactly what you’re buying. Better yet, visit the farm and ask for a tour.To locate a free-range pasture farm, try asking your local health food store, or check out the following web listings:
If you absolutely must purchase your eggs from a commercial grocery store, look for ones that are marked free-range organic. They’re still going to originate from a mass-production facility (so you’ll want to be careful about eating them raw), but it’s about as good as it gets if you can’t find a local source.I would strongly encourage you to AVOID ALL omega-3 eggs, as they are some of the least healthy for you. These eggs typically come from chickens that are fed poor-quality sources of omega-3 fats that are already oxidized. Also, omega-3 eggs perish much faster than non-omega-3 eggs.For more tips on eggs, including how to identify fresh, high-quality eggs, please read Raw Eggs for Your Health.

 

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Source: http://deliciouslyorganic.net/sauteed-leafy-greens/

It’s been a busy week. A family member was very sick, so I spent most of my week in Texas helping provide care. What a privilege to spend precious time with family, cooking soups, organic, grass-fed meats, and all sorts of leafy greens! We all enjoyed this simple, leafy green recipe. The greens are rich in vitamin C, the butter helps the body assimilate the nutrients from the vegetables and the Celtic sea salt adds over eighty minerals. A powerhouse of nutrients in just a few bites! It’s a great dish to serve alongside roasted meat or fish, or if you really love your vegetables, a bowl of this for dinner makes for a simple and delightful vegetarian meal.

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Roast Beef Tenderloin

If you don’t want to purchase a whole roast, you can make this recipe with tenderloin steaks (ribeye steaks taste fabulous with this marinade as well!). You can marinate the steaks and then grill to desired doneness. 
Serves 10

1 4-5 pound beef tenderloin, trimmed (if you’d like a small roast and one that’s pastured, I highly recommend this one)
1 cup fermented tamari or coconut aminos
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons ground garlic
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ghee, tallow or lard

Place the tenderloin in a shallow baking dish. Stir together tamari and vinegar and pour over the roast. Season the meat with all the garlic and black pepper. Marinate for 4 hours, rotating after 2 hours. Let the roast sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 425ºF and adjust the rack to the middle position.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the ghee and swirl the pan to coat. Place the roast on the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes until bottom is turning golden brown. Using a pair of tongs, turn the meat and cook for another 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Repeat this until all 4 sides are seared.

Transfer the roast to a large baking sheet, insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the roast and place in the oven. Roast for about 25-35 minutes, until thermometer reads 125ºF for medium-rare. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: I only test the recipes on my site with the listed ingredients and measurements. If you would like to try a substitution, you are welcome to share what you used and how it turned out in the comments below. Thanks!

 

 

 

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How to Live an Organic Lifestyle

Source: http://www.wikihow.com/Live-an-Organic-Lifestyle

When most people think of living organic, they think of food. This means that you buy foods that are free from fertilizers and pesticides.[1] However, you can live a more organic lifestyle in other ways too. You can use cleaning supplies that are made up of organic products, you can reduce the amount of waste you produce, and by finding ways to travel around without leaving a huge carbon footprint. Put simply, living an organic lifestyle means doing your best to live a healthy lifestyle while also doing your part to take care of the environment.

Purchase organic foods. Eating organic foods is good for the environment, but it also improves your health. Eating foods that are not organic means that you are ingesting lots of different chemicals, which can build up in your body.[2] Not only that, but organic foods are usually more nutritious and taste better.

  • Look for eggs that are, at a minimum, certified organic. This means that the birds were not fed any type of hormones or antibiotics. However, if you are also concerned for the welfare of the animals, look for eggs that are “certified humane raised and handled” or at least “free range.” This means that the birds are not kept in tiny cages their whole lives, and are given at least some opportunity to go outside and live like normal chickens.[3]
  • Choose meats and dairy products that are certified organic. This means that the animals are not given any synthetic hormones or antibiotics meant to speed their trip to the slaughterhouse and keep them from getting sick in their inhumane living conditions. These chemicals are often able to survive the cooking process and end up in your body.
  • Buy locally. Depending on where you live, this may limit some of the fruits and vegetables you have access to, but buying locally supports your local economy and it also reduces green house gasses by eliminating the need to transport your food from far away countries.[4]
    • The best way to find local products is to visit your local farmer’s market. If you don’t have a farmer’s market in your area, look for small organic shops around where you live as these usually source local products.
    • Another option, that is becoming more popular, are fruit and vegetable boxes delivered to your door. These boxes are available in many areas and contain fresh fruits and vegetables, usually from local farmers. A great thing about this is that it will encourage you to try out fruits and vegetables you maybe wouldn’t have otherwise tried.
    • Be aware though, that just because you bought something at a farmer’s market or because it came out of a veggie box doesn’t mean it is organic. Before purchasing anything ask the person you are buying something from where it came from and what products were used to grow it. Organic food should be grown without the use of fertilizers or pesticides.
    • When it comes to meat and eggs, you can look for small farms in your area, some of which may be able to sell you fresh meat and eggs directly from the farm. Make sure to ask them about how the animals are raised and whether they are fed any antibiotics or hormones.
    • Make your own meals. While more and more organic restaurants are popping up, you can never be sure where the ingredients on your plate have come from unless you have purchased and prepared them yourself. If you really want to live a completely organic lifestyle, avoid eating out as much as possible.[5]
      • That’s not to say you can never ever eat out again as long as you live. You can, but try to limit this to special occasions. When you do eat out, try to choose places that promote the use of organic ingredients. Research the restaurant before you go there to make sure they actually practice what they preach.
      • Consider starting your own organic garden. One way to reduce the amount of waste you produce (e.g. through plastic bags and other packaging that your organic groceries may come in) is by growing some of your own vegetables. Starting up an organic garden will save you money because you will only have to purchase the basic supplies to start a garden (mainly seeds) and it will give you many great fruits and vegetables that will keep you healthy.[6]
        • Gardening is also a great hobby. Many people find it very relaxing and rewarding.
        • A 4×4 foot bed will be able to grow all the vegetables that one person can eat, and even small window boxes can grow a few herbs or vegetables to supplement your meals.

 

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Is Fruit Good or Bad For Your Health? The Sweet Truth

Source: https://authoritynutrition.com/is-fruit-good-or-bad-for-your-health/

Authority Nutrition

“Eat more fruits and vegetables.”

If I had a dime for every time I heard that recommendation, I’d be a rich man today.

Everyone knows that fruits are healthy… they are the default “health foods.”

They come from plants… they’re real, whole foods and humans have been eating them for a long time.

Most of them are also very convenient… some people call them “nature’s fast food” because they are so easily portable and easy to prepare.

On the surface, they seem like the perfect food.

However… many people have challenged the belief about the health effects of fruit in the past few years.

The main reason is that fruit is relatively high in sugar compared to other whole foods.

“Sugar” is Bad… But it Depends on The Context

Glass Full Of Sugar Cubes

There is a lot of evidence that added sugar is harmful .

This includes table sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup, which are both about half glucose, half fructose.

The main reason they are harmful, is because of the negative metabolic effects of fructose when consumed in large amounts.

I’m not going to get into the details, but you can read more about the harmful effects of added sugars here.

Many people now believe that because added sugars are bad, the same must apply to fruits, which also contain fructose.

However… this is completely wrong, because fructose is only harmful in large amounts and it is almost impossible to overeat fructose by eating fruit.

Eating whole fruit, it is almost impossible to consume enough fructose to cause harm.

Fruits are loaded with fiber, water and have significant chewing resistance.

For this reason, most fruits (like apples) take a while to eat and digest, meaning that the fructose hits the liver slowly.

Plus, fruit is incredibly fulfilling. Most people will feel satisfied after one large apple, which contains 23 grams of sugar, 13 of which are fructose (4).

Compare that to a 16oz bottle of Coke… which contains 52 grams of sugar, 30 of which are fructose .

A single apple would make you feel quite full, automatically making you eat less of other foods. However, a bottle of soda has remarkably poor effects on satiety and people don’t compensate for the sugar in sodas by eating less of other foods .

When fructose hits your liver fast and in large amounts (soda and a candy bar) then that can have disastrous consequences… but when it hits your liver slowly and in small amounts (an apple) then your body can easily take care of the fructose.

Also, let’s not forget the evolutionary argument… humans and pre-humans have been eating fruit for millions of years. The human body is well adapted to the small amounts of fructose found in nature.

Whereas large amounts of added sugar are harmful to most people, the same can NOT be said for fruit. Period.

Bottom Line: Whole fruits contain a relatively small amount of fructose and they take a while to chew and digest. Humans can easily tolerate the small amounts of fructose found in fruit.

 

 

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Color Wheel of Fruits and Vegetables

Source: http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/fruits-vegetables.shtml

By eating fruits and vegetables of a variety of different colors, one can get the best all-around health benefits. Each different color fruit and vegetables contains unique health components that are essential to our health.

Fruits and vegetables are very important to our health because they are whole foods, created by nature, that are rich in a large amount of nutrients. The processed foods that we so commonly eat, can never compare to the health benefits provided by strawberries or broccoli, which have fiber, vitamins, and enzymes built right in.

Eating plenty of healthy vegetables and fruits helps prevent heart disease and strokes, diverticulitis, control your blood pressure, prevent some types of cancers, and guards against cataract and macular degeneration or vision loss.

 

Nutrients in Red Fruits and Vegetables Include: Lycopene, ellagic acid, Quercetin, and Hesperidin, to name a few. These nutrients reduce the risk of prostate cancer, lower blood pressure, reduce tumor growth and LDL cholesterol levels, scavenge harmful free-radicals, and support join tissue in arthritis cases.

Types of Red Fruits & Vegetables Include: Beets, Blood oranges, Cherries, Cranberries, Guava, Papaya, Pink grapefruit, Pink/Red grapefruit, Pomegranates, Radicchio, Radishes, Raspberries, Red apples, Red bell peppers, Red chili peppers, Red grapes, Red onions, Red pears, Red peppers, Red potatoes, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tomatoes, and Watermelon.

Orange & Yellow Fruit and Vegetables
Nutrients in Orange and Yellow Fruit and Vegetables Include: Beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, and vitamin C. These nutrients reduce age-related macula degeneration and the risk of prostate cancer, lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, promote collagen formation and healthy joints, fight harmful free radicals, encourage alkaline balance, and work with magnesium and calcium to build healthy bones.

Types of Yellow and Orange Fruits & Vegetables Include: Apricots, Butternut squash, Cantaloupe, Cape Gooseberries, Carrots, Golden kiwifruit, Grapefruit, Lemon, Mangoes, Nectarines, Oranges, Papayas, Peaches, Persimmons, Pineapples, Pumpkin, Rutabagas, Sweet corn, Sweet potatoes, Tangerines, Yellow apples, Yellow beets, Yellow figs, Yellow pears, Yellow peppers, Yellow potatoes, Yellow summer squash, Yellow tomatoes, Yellow watermelon, and Yellow winter squash.

Green Vegetables & Fruit
Nutrients in Green Vegetables and Fruit Include: Chlorophyll, fiber, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, folate, vitamin C, calcium, and Beta-carotene. The nutrients found in these vegetables reduce cancer risks, lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, normalize digestion time, support retinal health and vision, fight harmful free-radicals, and boost immune system activity.

Types of Green Fruits & Vegetables Include: Artichokes, Arugula, Asparagus, Avocados, Broccoflower, Broccoli, Broccoli rabe, Brussel sprouts, Celery, Chayote squash, Chinese cabbage, Cucumbers, Endive, Green apples, Green beans, Green cabbage, Green grapes, Green onion, Green pears, Green peppers, Honeydew, Kiwifruit, Leafy greens, Leeks, Lettuce, Limes, Okra, Peas, Snow Peas, Spinach, Sugar snap peas, Watercress, and Zucchini.

Blue & Purple Fruits and Vegetables
Nutrients in Blue and Purple Fruits and Vegetables Include: Lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids, ellagic acid, and quercetin. Similar to the previous nutrients, these nutrients support retinal health, lower LDL cholesterol, boost immune system activity, support healthy digestion, improve calcium and other mineral absorption, fight inflammation, reduce tumor growth, act as an anticarcinogens in the digestive tract, and limit the activity of cancer cells.

Types of Blue and Purple Fruits & Vegetables Include: Black currants, Black salsify, Blackberries, Blueberries, Dried plums, Eggplant, Elderberries, Grapes, Plums, Pomegranates, Prunes, Purple Belgian endive, Purple Potatoes, Purple asparagus, Purple cabbage, Purple carrots, Purple figs, Purple grapes, Purple peppers, and Raisins.

White Colored Fruits and Vegetables
Nutrients in White fruits and Vegetables Include: Beta-glucans, EGCG, SDG, and lignans that provide powerful immune boosting activity. These nutrients also activate natural killer B and T cells, reduce the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers, and balance hormone levels, reducing the risk of hormone-related cancers.

Types of White Fruits & Vegetables Include: Bananas, Brown pears, Cauliflower, Dates, Garlic, Ginger, Jerusalem artickoke, Jicama, Kohlrabi, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Shallots, Turnips, White Corn, White nectarines, and White peaches.

According to the food pyramid potatoes are not counted as a vegetable, as they are consist mostly of starch and should be consumed sparingly.

 

 

 

 

 

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My Organic Diary‘s adventure started in January 2015 with an Instagram.

Source: http://www.my-organic-diary.com/about-me/

Focusing on eating tasty but healthy, My Organic Diary gives creative and innovative ideas to those who want to try them-selves at cooking or just for a visual treat.

Kosher and organic, all the recipes are invented for a simple reason: palate satisfaction!

I am Kelly, French foodie and healthy lifestyle enthusiast! I decided to combine both without sacrifice. My food is tasty and flavorful but natural and fresh. All homemade, free of GMO, processed food or refined sugar.

Growing up in Paris surrounded by food with parents in the catering industry, I was always interested in tasting new flavors. I moved to New York City in 2012 and studied advertising. After graduating, I worked a few years in a big publishing company. Today, I am so happy and grateful to be devoted to my passion.

As a Food Revolution ambassador, I promote this new lifestyle during my free cooking classes. Contact me!

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12 Ways to Be Organic on a Budget

Source: http://life.gaiam.com/article/12-ways-be-organic-budget

Organic food and consumer products that have been produced in a cleaner, more environmentally friendly manner take a bad rap on a fairly regular basis for being more expensive. On this point alone, that reputation is typically pretty justified: Yes, these products can be and often are pricier than their conventional counterparts. But there are ways to offset the costs so that your overall expenses in going organic won’t be much more than what you’re paying now, and possibly even a little less.

Here’s how:

1. Buy direct from the farm.

Farmers’ markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) arrangements are typically less expensive than organic markets or the organic section of your local grocery store. You’re guaranteed the freshest flavors of the season, and as an added bonus, farmers have the best recipe tips!

2. Buy store brands.

Supermarkets and large discounters like Wal-Mart have realized good success in offering their own organic products. Private-label offerings are expanding, and they’re cheaper than name brands.

3. Clip coupons.

You might not see many coupons for organic products in the weekly food section of the newspaper, but you’ll definitely see them in other places. Look for them in health and fitness magazines and in lifestyle magazines. You’ll have more luck online — search Web sites for organic coupons: www.couponsherpa.com and www.organiccoupons.org are two reputable sites. Grocery Coupon Guide recommends going directly to company Web sites and will even direct you there — search the site for a blog post on “Organic & Natural Food Coupons,” which includes links to a long list of them. A few to start with: Organic Valley, Stonyfield, Seventh Generation, Eden Organic and Knudsen Juices.

4. Make your own.

Processed organic food products can be substantially more expensive than their conventional equivalents, and processed foods overall are always more expensive than the sum of their individual parts. Instead of buying granola cereal, make your own. Want to make sure your baby’s food is the freshest and healthiest it can be? When you make it yourself, you can ensure the quality of the ingredients and the processing. Cook at home using organic foods. You can turn almost any recipe into an organic recipe just by using organic ingredients.

5. Buy in bulk.

Buying in large quantities is always cheaper than buying smaller, prepared portions.

6. Learn your labels.

It’s easy to get a little confused over the terminology and lingo in the organic world, especially when you’re first starting out. When you’re watching your pennies, don’t buy something that’s labeled “natural” when you’re looking for “organic.”

7. Learn what to buy organic and what to not buy organic.

There are certain organic foods and food products that are worth spending the money on, and some that you can skip and save the money. Check out these top fruits and veggies to buy organic.

8. Start your own co-op.

Want to buy a side of organic beef or pork but don’t have the storage room and worry you won’t get through it fast enough? Join up with like-minded individuals and share the expense — and the goodness.

9. Grow your own.

Even the smallest balcony can usually support a pot or two. Fill those pots with a tomato plant and maybe a pepper plant and you’ve got the beginning of an organic garden. Herbs grow well indoors on a sunny windowsill.

10. Make your own cleaning products.

The ingredients that go into natural cleaning products — baking soda, vinegar, borax, washing soda — are as cheap as can be. The cost of making products from them is about one-tenth that of their commercial equivalents. Add up what you spend every month on cleaning products — you might be surprised at how much money you can save here.

11. Get your lawn off drugs.

What you spend on synthetic fertilizers and herbicides is just part of the story here. Lawns that are maintained with synthetic chemicals need more water. Want to cut down on your watering bill? Ditch the petrochemicals and go the natural route.

12. Finally, don’t be a slave to the word “organic.”

Yes, a label that says something is organic can be a sign of the purity and goodness of that product. But there are plenty of good, wholesome choices to be made that don’t include the word. For example, if you’re taking your dog organic, buying him a tin of certified organic dog biscuits might seem the thing to do, especially since you can point to the organic label and know for sure the ingredients therein are indeed healthy. But maybe there’s a pet store in your town that sells homemade dog biscuits. And maybe the woman who bakes them uses ingredients from her own garden. And maybe she gardens organically. And maybe she doesn’t use any preservatives or fillers in her products. They’re probably pretty darn good dog cookies, fresh and natural, and most likely about half the cost of the certified organic ones.

Don’t be an organic snob. Don’t pass up good products and good food because they’re not labeled “certified organic.” As you progress further into the organic world, you’ll find out that very little of the products it contains are certified organic, and for some good reasons.

 

 

 

 

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About www.organic-world.net

Source: http://www.organic-world.net/index.html

Organic-World.net provides key data and results of the global survey on organic agriculture of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, carried out in cooperation with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements IFOAM and other partners. Furthermore background information and news related to organic farming statistics and general developments in organic agriculture world-wide are available.

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Image result for school gardens

Horticulture TAMU Edu

Source:  http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/kindergarden/CHILD/SCHOOL/STEP.HTM

Starting School Gardens
School gardens can provide an environment in which students can learn to work with teachers, parents and neighborhood resident volunteers while growing plants and learning the relationship between people, plants and wildlife. The lessons that are taught at the garden site are limited only by one’s creativity. School Gardens are a special kind of learning center. Like libraries, they need responsible and knowledgeable people to do all the jobs necessary to maintain them as functional places in which children will learn. They should be seen as permanent additions and must be utilized year-round. Below is a framework which you should consider before starting your garden.

Step 1–Form a Garden Committee
As a teacher, you do not have the time that is needed to coordinate the garden program. Someone else has to be responsible for the garden work, finding funds to support the garden, scheduling educational activities, finding and training volunteers, researching and disseminating information. Forming a garden committee from a pool of dedicated people with those skills, will enhance the success of your program. Look for volunteers among the school staff, parents, and local residents. Or if you know of a gardener, ask that person to volunteer, or to recommend another gardener.

Step 2–Define the purpose and objectives of your garden
Every school garden must fulfill some need or objective. This is why each garden is unique. All teachers utilize the garden as a learning aid. For some teachers it may reinforce natural science classroom studies. For others it may reinforce social studies. Some teachers may utilize the garden across all curriculums. Whatever your needs are, by addressing these issues, you will have a better understanding of the work involved in this stage.

Step 3–Layout your students gardening activities
By determining your objectives at this early stage, you will have the opportunity to look at your lesson plans to see when and what types of garden lessons are needed. If you need help finding educational exercises and activities, there are many resources available for teachers (see below). You will need to determine which groups of students will be doing what and when, and determine how bed space will be allocated. The experiences and input from your garden committee will be helpful at this stage. This is your opportunity to schedule specific activities at specific times or assign certain tasks to your volunteers.

Step 4–Define a year-round garden plan
You have identified what your garden will be like while school is in session. But now, you need to think about your garden during summer break. The main question is, “Who is going to keep this garden maintained until school starts?” “How do you want the garden to look on the first day of school?” A year-round garden use plan will account for any school break.

Step 5–Choose a permanent garden site and design your garden
Your garden site should be in an area that receives plenty of sunlight, has good drainage, and in close proximity to water, electricity and accessible to students, volunteers, and teachers. The site should have enough room for your garden, tool storage, and students. Maintaining a large garden will use up all of your time and energy so select a relatively small area.

Step 6–Build your Garden according to plan
This is the big moment when teachers, volunteers, students and their parents pool their resources and build this permanent addition to the school.

 

 

 

Organic Production/Organic Food: Information Access Tools

What are organic production systems and practices?

From:  USDA

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Source: http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/organic-productionorganic-food-information-access-tools#systems

“Organic farming entails:

  • Use of cover crops, green manures, animal manures and crop rotations to fertilize the soil, maximize biological activity and maintain long-term soil health.
  • Use of biological control, crop rotations and other techniques to manage weeds, insects and diseases.
  • An emphasis on biodiversity of the agricultural system and the surrounding environment.
  • Using rotational grazing and mixed forage pastures for livestock operations and alternative health care for animal wellbeing.
  • Reduction of external and off-farm inputs and elimination of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and other materials, such as hormones and antibiotics.
  • A focus on renewable resources, soil and water conservation, and management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological balance.”

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Organic Food Recipe

Bacon, Sweet Potato and Maple Quiche

Image result for Bacon, Sweet Potato and Maple Quiche

Source: Organic It’s Worth It

http://www.organicitsworthit.org/make/bacon-sweet-potato-and-maple-quiche

For more recipes check out their website above.

Recipe courtesy of Stonyfield Farm

A splash of maple syrup gives this colorful, delicious quiche a bit of sweetness, but it’s savory too. Try pairing it with a light salad for lunch, or with fruit for breakfast.

10 servings

Ingredients

1 piece of refrigerated pie dough for 9” pie
8 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4“ strips
1 large onion, diced
2 medium-sized sweet potato, peeled and sliced into ¼”rounds
6 eggs
1 1/2 cup Stonyfield Organic Low Fat French Vanilla Yogurt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cup Gruyere, Emmenthaler or another type of Swiss cheese
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll out and press crust into pie plate. Crimp edges and then put in refrigerator. Boil sweet potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes (not completely cooked through), drain and cool.

Cook bacon in sauté pan until half done. Remove bacon and set aside in medium sized mixing bowl. Drain off most of the fat from the pan and return to medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until clear (5-7 minutes). Add cooked onions to the bowl with bacon and let cool.

In another bowl beat eggs with yogurt. Add maple syrup and 1 cup of the cheese. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Add bacon and onions into yogurt mixture.

In your chilled piecrust, layer sweet potatoes and yogurt mixture and cover with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories 280, Calories from Fat 140, Total Fat 15g, Saturated Fat 6g, Trans Fat 0%, Cholesterol 155mg, Sodium 260mg, Total Carbohydrate 21g, Dietary Fiber 2g, Sugars 7g, Protein 14g, Vitamin A 100%, Vitamin C 8%, Calcium 25%, Iron 8%

 

 

HEALTHY LIVING

What’s With All The Organic Food Recalls?

 

Although still relatively rare, organic food recalls spiked in 2015 — but that actually might be a good thing.

The New York Times reports organic food has made up seven percent of the food recalled so far in 2015, according to data from Stericylce, a company that handles recalls for businesses. That’s up from only 2 percent of total recalls in 2014 and 1 percent in 2013 and 2012.

Of course, this isn’t a sign you should ditch organic fruits and veggies. Not only have studies proven that organic food is indeed better for you — they’re packed with antioxidants and have less pesticide residue — but this increase in recalls probably has something to do with how much more organic food is available. The market is expanding like crazy; in June, Costco’s chief financial officer Richard Galanti said Costco has made “at least” $4 billion annually in organic food sales, up from an estimate of $3 billion he gave just six to nine months before.

“A key point to keep in mind is that an overall increase in organic recalls between 2012 and 2015 would not be surprising — not because organic food is less safe, but because of the dramatic increase in organic food sales and purchases that we’ve been seeing in this country,” Gwendolyn Wyard of the Organic Trade Association told the New York Times.

Plus, a lot of these recalls are cautionary. In March, despite no reports of illness, Amy’s Kitchen recalled over 70,000 cases of food because some of the spinach in their products may have been tainted with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes, which can be extremely dangerous for pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

So there you have it: You don’t have to lose the organics. Just know your recall facts.

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How to Plant an Organic Garden

By Scott McGillivray

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Science Daily

Fungi are at the root of tropical forest diversity, or lack thereof, study finds

 

Source:   University of Illinois at Urbana

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160222151642.htm

ChampaignSummary:

The types of beneficial fungi that associate with tree roots can alter the fate of a patch of tropical forest, boosting plant diversity or, conversely, giving one tree species a distinct advantage over many others, researchers report.

The types of beneficial fungi that associate with tree roots can alter the fate of a patch of tropical forest, boosting plant diversity or, conversely, giving one tree species a distinct advantage over many others, researchers report.

The new study focused on mountain forests in Panama that harbor hundreds of tree species, but which include small patches dominated by the tree species Oreomunnea mexicana.

“Tropical ecologists are puzzled by how so many species co-occur in a tropical forest,” said University of Illinois plant biology professor James Dalling, who led the study with graduate student Adriana Corrales and collaborators from Washington University in St. Louis and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. “If one tree species is a slightly better competitor in a particular environment, you would expect its population to increase and gradually exclude other species.”

That doesn’t happen often in tropical forests, however, he said. Diversity remains high, and patches dominated by a single species are rare. Understanding how monodominant forests arise and persist could help explain how tropical forests otherwise maintain their remarkable diversity, he said.

The researchers focused on two types of fungi that form symbiotic relationships with trees: arbuscular mycorrhizas and ectomycorrhizas. Arbuscular mycorrhizas grow inside the roots of many different tree species, supplying phosphorus to their tree hosts. Ectomycorrhizas grow on the surface of tree roots and draw nitrogen from the soil, some of which they exchange for sugars from the trees. Ectomycorrhizas cooperate with only a few tree species — 6 percent or less of those that grow in tropical forests.

Previous studies found that arbuscular mycorrhizas commonly occur in the most diverse tropical forests, while ectomycorrhizal fungi dominate low-diversity patches.

“When you walk in a patch of forest where 70 percent of the trees belong to a single species that also happens to be an ectomycorrhizal-associated tree, it makes you think there is something going on with the fungi that could be mediating the formation of these monodominant forests,” Corrales said.

The researchers tested three hypotheses to explain the high abundance of Oreomunnea. First, they tested the idea that Oreomunnea trees are better able to resist species-specific pathogens than trees growing in more diverse forest areas.

“We were expecting that Oreomunnea seedlings would grow better in soil coming from beneath other Oreomunnea trees, because that’s how the tree grows in nature,” Corrales said. “But we found the opposite: The Oreomunnea suffered more from pathogen infection when grown in soil from the same species than in soil from other species.”

The researchers next tested whether mature Oreomunnea trees supported nearby Oreomunnea seedlings by sending sugars to them via a shared network of ectomycorrhizal fungi. But they found no evidence of cooperation between the trees.

“The seedlings that were isolated from the ectomycorrhizas of other Oreomunnea trees grew better than those that were in contact with the fungi from other trees of the same species,” Corrales said.

In a third set of experiments, the team looked at the availability of nitrogen inside and outside the Oreomunnea patches.

“We saw that inorganic nitrogen was much higher outside than inside the patches,” Corrales said. Tree species that normally grow outside the patches did well on the high-nitrogen soils, but suffered when transplanted inside the Oreomunnea patches. A look at the nitrogen isotopes in the fungi, soils and in the seedlings’ leaves revealed the underlying mechanism by which the fungi influenced the species growing inside and outside the Oreomunnea patches.

The team found evidence consistent with ectomycorrhizal uptake of nitrogen directly from decomposing material in the soil. These fungi make some of their nitrogen available to the Oreomunnea trees while starving other plants and soil microbes of this essential nutrient, Corrales said. The lack of adequate nitrogen means bacteria and fungi are unable to break down organic matter in the soil, causing most other trees to suffer because they depend on the nitrogen supplied by microbial decomposers, she said.

“We found a novel mechanism that can explain why certain tree species in tropical forests are highly abundant, and that is because their fungi provide them with a source of nitrogen that is not accessible to competing species,” Dalling said. “So they have an advantage because their competitors are now starved of nitrogen.”

Researchers have found recently that similar processes can occur in temperate forests, but this is the first study to link this process to tropical forest monodominance, Dalling said.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The original item was written by Diana Yates. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Adriana Corrales, Scott A. Mangan, Benjamin L. Turner, James W. Dalling. An ectomycorrhizal nitrogen economy facilitates monodominance in a neotropical forest. Ecology Letters, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/ele.12570

 

USDA Gov – What is Organic Agriculture?

What We Do – USDA provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management.

We have a vision to provide economic opportunity through innovation, helping rural America to thrive; to promote agriculture production that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world; and to preserve our Nation’s natural resources through conservation, restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.

Our strategic plan serves as a roadmap for the Department to help ensure we achieve our mission and implement our vision.

What is Organic Agriculture?

http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=organic-agriculture.html

Organic agriculture produces products using methods that preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics. USDA organic standards describe how farmers grow crops and raise livestock and which materials they may use.

Organic farmers, ranchers, and food processors follow a defined set of standards to produce organic food and fiber. Congress described general organic principles in the Organic Foods Production Act, and the USDA defines specific organic standards. These standards cover the product from farm to table, including soil and water quality, pest control, livestock practices, and rules for food additives.

Organic farms and processors:

  • Preserve natural resources and biodiversity
  • Support animal health and welfare
  • Provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors
  • Only use approved materials
  • Do not use genetically modified ingredients
  • Receive annual onsite inspections
  • Separate organic food from non-organic food

Organic Certification Benefits Farms and Businesses

Over 31,000 farmers, ranchers and other businesses get many benefits from USDA organic certification. Many receive premium prices for their products through the growing $43 billion U.S. organic retail market. Most operations that grow, handle, or process organic products-and want to call their products organic-must be certified.

Organic Certification Benefits Consumers

USDA has strengthened its oversight of organic products, using methods such as inspections and residue testing to ensure the integrity of organic products from farm to market. We’ve created a level playing field by developing clear standards, investigating consumer complaints, and taking action against farmers and businesses that violate the law.

USDA Supports Organic Agriculture

In addition to setting the standards for U.S. organic products, USDA supports organic agriculture in all of its agencies. In May 2013, Secretary Vilsack issued new Guidance on Organic Agriculture, Marketing and Industry (PDF, 96KB) directing all USDA agencies to support organic agriculture and markets. USDA offers a wide variety of funding opportunities, including conservation grants, organic crop insurance, and simplified microloans. To learn more about USDA programs and how they support organic agriculture, view the USDA’s Organic Resource Guide.

Trade partnerships streamline organic exports and imports with other countries, increasing the market share of organic products worldwide while maintaining rigorous production standards. Additionally, foreign products certified to the USDA organic standards can access the U.S. market. USDA also provides current prices for organic apples and other market information, funds research at public and private institutions, and provides practical advice to farmers and ranchers.

Overall, USDA oversees organic farmers and businesses to make sure that organic food is produced with organic methods. Each year, organic farmers update a farm plan and complete an inspection to confirm that their practices match their records. The farmer must correct any issues to continue certification. Organic food processors meet similar requirements.

If you are concerned that an organic product isn’t meeting the USDA standards, you can submit a complaint to the USDA. We investigate every complaint we receive, and if we find any problems we take action. Anyone can file a complaint by contacting the USDA.

Have Feedback on the Organic Standards?

Public comments are an important part of developing sound and sensible policies for organic farmers, ranchers, and food processors. The USDA holds two public meetings each year on behalf of its citizen advisory committee, the National Organic Standards Board, to hear a wide range of perspectives from our organic stakeholders. To be notified of public comment opportunities and other updates, subscribe to the USDA Organic Insider.

 

 

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Prevention

http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/organic-food-savings-tips

Save Money On Organic Foods

Be a budget organic! Use our guide to help you decide what to buy organic and what to skip.  Nice article by Prevention.

Great general health information (food, health and fitness) on this website.  

Use our guide to help you decide what to buy organic and what to skip. … The benefits influence your health today—and long-term. Here, why certain foods are worth the splurge, plus tips to save you money while keeping your diet nutritional.

One tip they offer is organic milk vs. non-organic.

Per half gallon, organic milk is more expensive—about $4 versus $2.50—but it’s worth the splurge. Recent studies revealed impressive findings on organic milk. Some highlights include: It contains 75% more beta-carotene, as much as a serving of brussels sprouts. It has 50% more vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that aids the immune system and fights cancer and heart disease. It provides 2 to 3 times the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, and about 70% more omega-3 fatty acids. Organic milk also contains more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). This good fat has been linked to numerous health benefits, including stronger immunity, less belly fat, a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, and healthier arteries. For more tips goto the website above.

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Organic Consumer Association

Advocacy group for food safety, organic farming and environmental sustainability. Organic food is pure food. It’s safer, more nutritious and free of chemical additives. Organic crops are grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers and organic livestock are raised without antibiotics, growth hormones or other drugs. Organic food isn’t genetically modified or irradiated.  https://www.organicconsumers.org/

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Organic Authority

 

 

Source: http://www.organicauthority.com/organic-food-recipes/

Organic Authority is the leading publication helping Americans change how they eat and choose which consumer products they bring into their lives. By presenting our readers with the latest information, how-to’s, and delicious recipes, along with recommendations for clean, consciously-raised, and sustainably-made products and brands, Organic Authority is a trusted voice of reason in an increasingly confusing world of options.

Launched in 2006 by husband and wife team Laura and John Klein, Organic Authority has been uncovering the truth behind America’s food supply and consumer products industries–pulling back the curtain on how America’s food is grown and processed. Today’s consumers are smart; they care about the food they eat, how it’s grown, how it’s processed. Their commitment goes beyond fresh. They want clean food, clean beauty, wellness, and home products. They want the truth.

Organic Authority has all the tips and expert advice you need for delicious good living.

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Organic foods: Are they safer? More nutritious?

By Mayo Clinic Staff

vegetables-970400_960_720

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/organic-food/art-20043880

Discover the real difference between organic foods and their traditionally grown counterparts when it comes to nutrition, safety and price.

Once found only in health food stores, organic food is now a regular feature at most supermarkets. And that’s created a bit of a dilemma in the produce aisle.

On one hand, you have a conventionally grown apple. On the other, you have one that’s organic. Both apples are firm, shiny and red. Both provide vitamins and fiber, and both are free of fat, sodium and cholesterol. Which should you choose? Get the facts before you shop.

 Conventional vs. organic farming

The word “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution.

Farmers who grow organic produce don’t use conventional methods to fertilize and control weeds. Examples of organic farming practices include using natural fertilizers to feed soil and plants, and using crop rotation or mulch to manage weeds.

 Organic or not? Check the label

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification program that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards. These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled and processed.

Any product labeled as organic must be USDA certified. Only producers who sell less than $5,000 a year in organic foods are exempt from this certification; however, they’re still required to follow the USDA’s standards for organic foods.

If a food bears a USDA Organic label, it means it’s produced and processed according to the USDA standards. The seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it.

Illustration of the USDA organic sealProducts certified 95 percent or more organic may display this USDA seal.

Products that are completely organic — such as fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods — are labeled 100 percent organic and can carry the USDA seal.

Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can use the USDA organic seal plus the following wording, depending on the number of organic ingredients:

  • 100 percent organic. To use this phrase, products must be either completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.
  • Organic. Products must be at least 95 percent organic to use this term.

Products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients may say “made with organic ingredients” on the label, but may not use the seal. Foods containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients can’t use the seal or the word “organic” on their product labels. They can include the organic items in their ingredient list, however.

 Do ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ mean the same thing?

No, “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable terms. You may see “natural” and other terms such as “all natural,” “free-range” or “hormone-free” on food labels. These descriptions must be truthful, but don’t confuse them with the term “organic.” Only foods that are grown and processed according to USDA organic standards can be labeled organic.

Organic food: Is it more nutritious?

Probably not, but the answer isn’t yet clear. A recent study examined the past 50 years’ worth of scientific articles about the nutrient content of organic and conventional foods. The researchers concluded that organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs are not significantly different in their nutrient content.

Organic food: Other considerations

Many factors influence the decision to choose organic food. Some people choose organic food because they prefer the taste. Yet others opt for organic because of concerns such as:

  • Pesticides. Conventional growers use synthetic pesticides to protect their crops from molds, insects and diseases. When farmers spray pesticides, this can leave residue on produce. Organic farmers use insect traps, careful crop selection (disease-resistant varieties), predator insects or beneficial microorganisms instead to control crop-damaging pests. Some people buy organic food to limit their exposure to these residues. Organic produce typically carries significantly fewer pesticide residues than does conventional produce. However, residues on most products — both organic and nonorganic — don’t exceed government safety thresholds.
  • Food additives. Organic regulations ban or severely restrict the use of food additives, processing aids (substances used during processing, but not added directly to food) and fortifying agents commonly used in nonorganic foods, including preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colorings and flavorings, and monosodium glutamate.
  • Environment. Some people buy organic food for environmental reasons. Organic farming practices are designed to benefit the environment by reducing pollution and conserving water and soil quality.

Are there downsides to buying organic?

One common concern with organic food is cost. Organic foods typically cost more than do their conventional counterparts. Higher prices are due, in part, to more-expensive farming practices.

Because organic fruits and vegetables aren’t treated with waxes or preservatives, they may spoil faster. Also, some organic produce may look less than perfect — odd shapes, varying colors or smaller sizes. However, organic foods must meet the same quality and safety standards as those of conventional foods.

 Food safety tips

Whether you go totally organic or opt to mix conventional and organic foods, be sure to keep these tips in mind:

  • Select a variety of foods from a variety of sources. This will give you a better mix of nutrients and reduce your likelihood of exposure to a single pesticide.
  • Buy fruits and vegetables in season when possible. To get the freshest produce, ask your grocer what day new produce arrives. Or buy food from your local farmers market.
  • Read food labels carefully. Just because a product says it’s organic or contains organic ingredients doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a healthier alternative. Some organic products may still be high in sugar, salt, fat or calories.
  • Wash and scrub fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water. Washing helps remove dirt, bacteria and traces of chemicals from the surface of fruits and vegetables. Not all pesticide residues can be removed by washing, though. You can also peel fruits and vegetables, but peeling can mean losing some fiber and nutrients.

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