This week, I want to highlight our top ten organic brands. This is not a sales-related ranking (though these organic brands all sell well), but more a ranking based on the company’s quality, commitment to organic production and organic ingredients, and alignment with our company values: helping to create a healthier planet through a commitment to sustainable practices.
Our top ten organic brands appear in alphabetical order because they’re all #1 on our list.
These companies embrace organic farming methods through using certified organic, sustainable and fair trade ingredients in their products; they support preventing the spread of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and support labeling GMOs; and, they value their relationships with their customers, their employees, their communities and their own families. We think these traits make a “top organic brand” and we think you’ll agree.
1. Alter Eco
First in our top ten organic brands is Alter Eco. Alter Eco promotes a form of global commerce where priority is given to working with marginalized farmers to build trade relations based on solidarity and sustainability. This approach ensures them fair remuneration that covers the full cost of production, promoting the respect of persons and of their environment. Alter Eco embraces Fair Trade values and aspires to connect consumers and producers. Among our core values are transparency, solidarity, fairness, and dedication to quality. Visit shopOrganic & shopGMOfree for Alter Eco Fair Trade products. From fair trade chocolate to several varieties of quinoa to jasmine rice and more, Alter Eco at shopOrganic.com brings you the best in fair trade products.
Next on our top ten organic brands list is Bionaturae. If you’re a pasta connoisseur, you must try Bionaturae organic pasta. It’s the next best thing to making it yourself (and if you’ve ever tried to make pasta, you know it’s an art form. Imported from Tuscany, Italy, bionaturæ® organic semolina pastas are redefining the pasta category in the United States and intend to bring pasta back to its more flavorful and authentic Old World traditions.
Organic durum wheat is grown in Italy on small family-owned farms that have been using traditional agricultural methods for centuries. All ingredients are certified organic and are grown and processed without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Bionaturae makes traditional organic pasta (and gluten free varieties as well) like rigatoni, penne and spaghetti (among many others) as well as organic nectars (peach, pear, bilberry, apricot) as well as tomato products (paste, sauce, etc.) and more. Browse Bionaturae products at shopOrganic & shopGMOfree today.
3. Edward & Sons
Also on our top ten organic brands is Edward & Sons. What we love about Edward & Sons is they look for little gaps in the organic market and they fill them with unique, delicious and high quality products. They’ve been in business since 1978 and they’re still around because of their unique and diverse product offerings. Edward & Sons makes delicious organic brown rice snaps and organic panko breadcrumbs perfect for all your breading needs.
Native Forest offers organic hearts of palm, a completely renewable resource that actually nurtures the rainforest. How great is that? Native Forest also offers unique products you won’t find anywhere else. Browse Native Forest products like organic mangosteen or organic rambutan as well as more familiar products like organic pineapple, organic mango and organic papaya at shopOrganic & shopGMOfree today.
The last of the Edward’s & Sons brands is Let’s Do . . . Organic, a line of certified organic confections and fun snacks. Once again, Edward’s & Sons has found another niche market that was underserved (non-existent!) in the organic space and their line of organic confections is a great addition. Browse Let’s Do…Organic products at shopOrganic & shopGMOfree from carnival sprinkles to sugar cones and more.
4. Frontier Natural Products Co-op
No top ten organic brands list is complete without Frontier Co-Op. They began with two people operating out of a cabin along the Cedar River in Iowa back in 1976. Since that time, the company has expanded to offer a top-notch line of organic herbs, spices, seasonings, flavorings and aromatherapy products. They have continued to expand and were at the forefront of organic certification before the USDA National Organic Program was instituted. From single organic spices to organic blends and seasonings, Frontier products are trusted and certified organic. From tried and true ( organic sea salt, minced onion, organic dried cilantro, parsley, dill, herbs, teas and more ) to more exotic blends (organic harissa, balti curry, Ras El Hanout, Tagine, Vindaloo and more), you can confidently spice up your life with organic Frontier products at shopOrganic & shopGMOfree today.
Our top ten organic brands list’s first organic cleaning products company – You eat organic food, you use organic body care products, but what about cleaning and greening your household? A welcome entrant to the household cleaning products category is GreenShield. Organic products for every aspect of household cleaning, these products are safe, effective and organic. How great is that? While you may not enjoy cleaning your house, these products will at least give you the satisfaction that you’re keeping your living space free from harmful chemicals. Browse GreenShield Organic products including organic auto dishwasher detergent, organic bathroom spray cleaner, organic window cleaner, organic laundry detergent and more at shopOrganic & shopGMOfree today.
Jovial is another organic brand on our top ten organic brands list, like Bionaturae, also from the hills of Tuscany, Italy. Their products are made from organic einkorn, an ancient grain (a wheat variety said to be tolerated by some with gluten sensitivities) and other grains. Their artisanal products and superb craftsmanship means each product is developed with care and manufactured in small batches to deliver high quality organic products. Choose Jovial einkorn or gluten free cookies – no too sweet, perfect for everyday munching – and einkorn or brown rice (gluten free) pastas.
7. Nature’s Path
No top ten organics product list would be complete without Nature’s Path. A lot of natural and organic brands from the 1970’s and 1980’s, out of sheer economic necessity, ended up being sold to large, multinational conglomerates with questionable commitment to organics. Nature’s Path has not only held their own in this market but has thrived and, to this day, remains privately held. Their entire product line is certified organic and their commitment to the organic industry and sustainability could not be more evident. We love Nature’s Path products and want to make sure you know about this ‘quiet giant’. From organic breakfast cereals to granolas, organic toaster pastries to organic superfood cereals to organic granola bars and more, these convenient, organic products are made by a company with a long-standing commitment to organics. Give Nature’s Path a try today at shopOrganic & shopGMOfree .
8. Newman’s Own Organics
Also making our top ten organic brands list – Newman’s Own. Paul Newman forged new ground in many ways during his acting career. With his daughter, Nel, he founded Newman’s Own Organics, yet another ground breaking achievement. This company not only provides a wide range of highly popular products from cookies to popcorn and pretzels to pet food and more, but they donate profits to charity. Doing well by doing good, now that’s what we’re talking about. Newman’s Own has this to say – “Great tasting food that happens to be organic.’ (That’s what we kept in mind when we created our products.) We focus on the kinds of products we loved as kids, but take them one step further by using the highest quality of available organic ingredients.” We couldn’t agree more!
Browse our selection of Newman’s Own Organics products at shopOrganic & shopGMOfree today.
Our top ten organic brands list’s organic body care company – Nourish. It’s not often you can find an organic body care line that’s committed to sustainability, but that’s what Nourish is all about. Founded over a decade ago, before organic body care products were even on the radar, the folks at Nourish were concerned by the hazardous chemicals used in existing beauty products and the lack of regulations in the personal care industry.
Nourish was the first beauty products company to ever work with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create a collection of products so pure they could be certified organic under the same strict standards the government uses to certify food. In 2003, they launched Nourish, the world’s first USDA-certified organic skincare collection. In 2012, they re-introduced the Nourish brand with an even more exciting line up of fabulous USDA certified organic products.
If you’re looking for high quality, affordable organic body care products, visit shopOrganic & shopGMOfree for these outstanding Nourish products. From organic fig hand wash to organic wild berries body lotion to organic unscented body butter and more, Nourish products are sure to please.
10. Rainbow Light
Last but not least on our top ten organic brands list – Rainbow Light. Their mission is to make a difference in the health of people, pets and planet. For nearly 30 years, they have delivered measurable, sustainable health benefits that create a difference you can feel by adhering to key principles of business including creating bio-balanced products, participating in global aid programs and employing sustainable business practices to promote planetary wellness. Rainbow Light’s products are made of the highest quality ingredients and they have been a pioneer in using organic ingredients in their health & wellness products. For high quality bio-balanced vitamins & supplements, visit shopOrganic & shopGMOfree to browse and buy Rainbow Light products.
What are your favorite organic brands and why? Tell us in the comments; we’d love to know!
Have you ever wondered what the various organic labels mean or if they mean anything at all? Today we’ll take a quick look at organic food labeling and give you just the facts.
USDA Organic Certification Requirements
The United States Department of Agriculture has set certain standards for organic food labeling. Organic products have strict production and labeling requirements. They are specifically excluded from having genetically modified organisms (GMOs), ionizing radiation or sewage sludge. That also is a frightening thought – non-organic foods can contain ionizing radiation or sewage sludge apparently. Yuk.
In addition, organic foods cannot have prohibited substances, there’s a national list of those items. You can find it via the link at the bottom of this article. It’s a pretty dull list but interesting nonetheless.
Finally, in order to be certified organic, the product must be certified either by the USDA or by an approved certifying organization such as Oregon Tilth, QAI, CCOF and others.
If a product contains organic ingredients but is not certified, it cannot be labeled as organic on the front panel nor can it display a certified organic seal. It can list certified organic ingredients in the ingredient list. If it goes through the certification process, it can use the word “organic” on the label and display the certifying agency’s seal.
Let’s take a look at organic food labeling –
In order for a product to be labeled 100% organic all ingredients must be certified organic, any processing aids used must also be organic, and the certifying agency’s name must be on the information panel. These products will also often have the USDA Organic Seal on them.
Labeling Organic Products
A product that is labeled as organic must use certified organic products to make up at least 95% of the ingredients. Non-organic products may be used up to 5% of the product, as long as the non-organic ingredients are not in the prohibited list. The 5% excludes ingredients that can’t be organic, like water and salt. The certifying agency’s name must be on the information panel. These products will often have the USDA Organic Seal on them.
Made With Organic Ingredients
A product may be labeled as “Made with Organic Ingredients” as long as at least 70% of the product is made with organic ingredients (excluding salt and water). Any remaining agricultural products used in the product need not be organic. However, they cannot be made with excluded methods (that’s GMOs, the ionizing radiation and sewage sludge). Other non-organic non-agricultural ingredients cannot be on the Prohibited List. The certifying agency’s name must be on the information panel. These products will not have the USDA Organic Seal.
A product that has less than 70% organic ingredients can still list certified organic ingredients in their information panel. These products cannot claim their product as organic.
Organic food labeling doesn’t have to be confusing. Unlike claims like ‘natural’, ‘sustainable’, or ‘eco-friendly’, organic food labeling has a strict set of standards that you can trust.
Organic Food Labeling Resources
Labeling GMOs shouldn’t be as big as deal as it is turning out to be, should it? I mean, labeling GMOs should be like labeling anything else – we label grams of fat and fiber, sodium content and sugar. So why are manufacturers so reluctant to label GMOs?
I’ve given it a lot of thought. I understand the business model for conventional food is to use inexpensive ingredients and sell massive quantities. I get it. So, if you’re using GMO products because they’re less expensive, why not label GMOs?
Did you know that 61 countries, including China already label GMOs? If they are so great, why not advertise them? Maybe its because Monsanto knows that by manufacturers refusing to label GMOs, they will be able to continue to make huge profits off of this untested technology.
The FDA takes a position on GMOs that they are unaware of any risks with GMOs and that they are “substantially equivalent” to their non-GMO counterparts. Many scientists have differed with this position including the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the American Academy of Environmental Medicine. We certainly differ with that position. Monsanto has been able to patent their seed and by nature a patent indicates that something is unique about the item. To say that a non-GMO seed is “substantially equivalent” to a GMO seed and still allow that GMO seed to be patented makes no sense.
At shopOrganic.com, we took a hard look at all of our products. Of course, organic products by definition are non-GMO. But for some of our non-food products that have natural ingredients, we looked at whether or not they were likely to be GMO. From there, we removed all products that had ingredients likely to be GMO – mostly ingredients derived from corn and soy. Finally, we contacted manufacturers – yup, we contacted every manufacturer of a product that had ingredients we could not verify one way or the other through labeling and we asked them. If they could verify their products were non-GMO, we kept them. If they could not, we removed them from our inventory. Many of these companies are good companies with great products, but we believe that each company needs to take full responsibility for the source and quality of their ingredients.
We believe that to label GMOs would be the beginning of the end of them and we wholeheartedly support their labeling. To honor that commitment, we also removed any brand from our product selection whose parent company donated money to defeat Prop 37 (the GMO labeling initiative in California).
So, at the end of the day, we do not sell products with GMOs. Period. We believe that’s the right thing to do, especially given increasing evidence regarding the health risks of GMOs. We don’t think GMO products are fit for human or animal consumption. So, at minimum, manufacturers should be willing to label GMOs used in their products. We believe in supporting companies that are doing the right thing, companies whose values align with our own.
What do you think?
Keeping Healthy New Year’s Resolutions
Most folks who celebrate the New Year on January 1 make some sort of resolutions and they know it’s tricky keeping healthy New Year’s resolutions. We may not formalize our goals, we may deny having them, but most of us feel a sense of completion at year end and a sense of possibility at the New Year. So, we’re inclined to want to make and keep healthy New Year’s resolutions. Kind of like do-overs. Whatever we didn’t accomplish, finish or even start last year has the possibility to come to fruition in this new year – or so we hope.
And for most of us, one resolution is to eat healthier food or get more exercise (or both). And while I don’t have any magic bullet to offer, I do have a few ideas that you might find useful as you launch your new year and your new and improved self. So, here are my top five ways to keep healthy New Year’s resolutions – let me know what works for you.
One thing I have learned over the years is that change doesn’t come easy and it usually doesn’t stick. The biggest reason for that is we tend to take on too many changes at once or take too big a step.
So, if you want to make a meaningful, permanent change in your life – like losing weight or sticking to an exercise program – start small. My suggestion is to make a list of what you want to accomplish – no more than three big things – and break each down into very small steps. Then, take Step 1 on your first item (or take Step 1 on your top three items if you dare).
MAKE ONE CHANGE STICK
Before you move on to Step 2 of your desired change, make sure that Step 1 change has stuck. Wait 60 days or 90 days. If you can make one meaningful change stick, chances are good you’ll be able to move on to Step 2, 3, 4 and make those stick. Take it slow. You’re better off skipping dessert 6 days a week (Step 1 goal) and keeping that habit for the next decade than you are to lose 10 lbs. in a month and put 20 lbs. back on over the course of the year.
EAT NON-GMO, ORGANIC FOOD
Organic food is, by definition, free from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Some non-GMO food is organic, some is not. So, if you want to be sure your food is non-GMO, choose organic. GMO foods have been linked to intestinal distress, irritable bowel syndrome and a lot of other unpleasant physical symptoms. If you avoid GMO foods and eat organic, not only will you avoid pesticides and chemicals in your foods, you’ll eat healthy foods that will support your health and wellness goals.
DRINK CLEAN WATER
Many people don’t drink enough water throughout the day, especially when it’s cold outside. If you drink caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, etc. then you should boost your water even more since caffeine is a diuretic and contributes to dehydration.
Drink plenty of clean, plain water throughout the day. It will improve your mental outlook, your skin tone, your energy level and your health. Wow, all that for clean water. Keep a diary, increase your water over time.
Finally, be kind to yourself as you make these changes. Change pulls you out of your comfort zone, out of your routine and your ruts. That’s often an uncomfortable place to be and it can be so subtle, we don’t realize we’re out of sorts because of these small disruptions in our routines. Be kind – to yourself and others. No matter what else you do, you’ll have a better outlook if you just remember kindness matters.
This year, resolve to make one healthy change stick.
What is your resolution? How are you going to make a change that stays with you through 2013 and beyond?
Finally, before we go, here are some links to help you rev up your healthy lifestyle this year – drop a comment if you have a favorite online resource you use for healthy living!
Looking for a fast, easy, delicious soup for a cold winter night?
Try this delicious, organic (vegan) spinach soup recipe – ready in minutes!
This is one of my all time favorite organic soup recipes – spinach potato. It cooks up in minutes, it’s a vibrant green and the potato gives it a great mouth feel without adding any fat. It’s satisfying, filling and packed with healthy nutrients. If you’ve ever had the urge to ‘eat something green’ on a cold winter day, this recipe is for you.
Yield: Four 8 oz servings, you can double this recipe for larger servings
Immersion blender or food processor
1 large container (16 oz.) fresh, organic spinach (you can substitute frozen, but it won’t be as fabulous).
1 large organic russet potato
1/8 tsp nutmeg or to taste
white pepper (black pepper is ok too) – to taste
salt – to taste
2. Wash and slice the potato into thin slices (1/4 inch)
You can serve this with a nice chunk of fresh bread, a bit of grated cheese or my favorite – a grilled cheese sandwich made with organic sharp cheddar cheese on dark rye or pumpernickel bread. Yum. Warm up, fill up and enjoy this delicious soup today!
Looking for ingredients?
Dr. Oz and GMOs….what a complicated little plot that seems to be playing out these days in the media. I’m still not sure why Dr. Oz, formerly an outstanding proponent of organic and non-GMO foods, recently reversed his position. Dr. Oz’s wife is the narrator in the documentary “Genetic Roulette” and it seemed, for a while at least, as though the couple were in agreement on this topic.
Dr. Oz And GMOs…Before
According to an article published by the Cornucopia Institute, Dr. Oz once told millions of viewers, “I want you to eat organic foods” and “your kids deserve better than to be part of a national chemistry experiment.” Oz is also quoted as having previously said “Our children should not serve as the human equivalents of lab rats.”
Dr. Oz And GMOs…After
In a recent Time Magazine article, Dr. Oz has changed his tune. Oz now claims that conventional (non-organic, potentially GMO) foods are “nutritionally equal” to organic foods (scientifically, organic foods have been proven to be more nutritious and Oz never mentions pesticide contamination). Oz now calls organic foods “elitist.” According to Cornucopia, “Suddenly, a middle-class mother who decides to pay extra for a safe haven from pesticide contamination is called “snooty” and a “food snob” by the very same celebrity physician who once urged her to protect her children from agricultural chemicals by choosing organic.” Studies have shown a direct relationship between ADHD and pesticides. Organic foods are pesticide free, so where is Oz coming from now? The data have not changed.
Theories Unfolding About Dr. Oz and GMOs
Why the reversal on the topic of Dr. Oz and GMOs? What could cause a medical celebrity with that kind of public influence to turn back on earlier public statements?
I don’t know the answers but I do have some theories. If anyone has any additional thoughts or theories, please comment here.
From my perspective, Dr. Oz has a career that is supported and/or influenced by a number of large players, but most notably, the media and its corporate sponsors.
Dr. Oz has a popular television show. The network on which the show airs certainly has to have come under strong pressure from corporations against GMO labeling and in support of GMO foods. The advertisers and sponsors of that show may also have put pressure on Dr. Oz and the network to reverse course. Unless facts surface or Oz speaks up, we may never know – but something caused Oz to suddenly and completely backtrack from his former stance.
The Facts About non-GMO Are The Facts
All of this is speculation. What is fact is that there is a growing body of scientific evidence tying illness in animals and humans and the consumption of GMO foods and foods containing pesticide residues. What is fact is that Dr. Oz is a well-educated, medically trained and thoughtful wellness expert who used to fully support the scientific evidence pointing to organic and non-GMO as a much healthier alternative. I doubt he rushed into judgment when supporting organic and non-GMO foods. So, I have to wonder what changed his mind so quickly and decisively.
I have tremendous respect for Dr. Oz and the awareness he’s brought to health and wellness. I am puzzled by his change of stance on organic and non-GMOs. Unfortunately, it makes me a bit wary of other opinions he may now (or in the future) promote.
shopOrganic & shopGMOFree Remain True to Our non-GMO Vision
However, regardless of what Dr. Oz may or may not publicly espouse, we here at shopOrganic & shopGMOFree are 100% clear on our mission. We want food that is safe and sustainable for everyone. It’s pretty simple at its core and pretty complex in reality. But, that’s our mission and we’re sticking to it.
Have you ever wondered what the difference is between Grade A and Grade B organic maple syrup? We were taught as children that an A was always better than a B…but with maple syrup, that’s not always the case.
Organic Maple Syrup Origins
Organic maple syrup is a tree syrup (also, birch and palm sugars, which are tree syrups/sugars) and these are made from evaporated sap of these trees. The maple tree originated in Japan or China. According to one of my favorite authors, Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking, there are four species of maple in North America that are good for sugaring. According to McGee, one species, the Acer saccharum, supplies most of our maple syrup due to the quantity and quality of sap it produces. Weather conditions have a significant impact on the flavors, so most maple sap is collected in the northeastern US and eastern Canada.
Another interesting scientific fact is that other trees such as birch, elm and hickory also produce sap. Maple sap is unique in that the tree stores sugar from the prior season and pushes those out in the spring after the first thaw. The sugar is pushed out of the trunk into the actively growing zone called (think back to your biology classes….), the cambium. Enough science for today (and thanks, again, Mr. McGee).
Organic Maple Syrup Production
A tap into the cambium allows sap to run off, which is collected and concentrated. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce a gallon of syrup. The evaporation can be done using heat, though most manufacturers today use reverse osmosis. According to McGee, Native Americans used the fact that spring evenings could still be freezing at night in New England. The sap was laid out in vessels and the water would freeze overnight. In the morning, the ice would be broken and disposed of. The sugar didn’t freeze, only the water – so over the course of several days, the water would freeze and be discarded and the sap grew browner and sweeter. So, for those of you New Englanders who have an Acer saccharum variety maple tree in your yard, you can use the original, no-tech method and produce some of your very own organic maple syrup….but back to our grades.
Organic Maple Syrup Grades
The longer the sap is evaporated, the stronger the flavor becomes. The final composition, according to McGee, is approximately 62% sucrose, 34% water, 3% glucose and fructose and 0.5% malic acid and other acids as well as trace amino acids. The longer and hotter the syrup is processed, the more intense the flavor and sugar content.
Grade A is assigned to lighter syrup, which has a more delicate flavor and less concentrated sugars. This grade is often used to pour onto foods such as pancakes and waffles.
Grade B is assigned to darker, heavier syrup with a more intense flavor profile and more concentrated sugars. It typically has more caramel flavor and is often used in baked goods, glazes and other cooking/baking uses.
Grade C is no longer used as a designation, it was combined with Grade B, so you won’t find Grade C available in the U.S.
If you’re like me, you use maple syrup somewhat sparingly – it’s a relatively expensive sweetener (but well worth the flavor it adds). I keep Grade B on hand and use it both for pouring over my delicious organic pancakes (recipe another time) as well as in baking and cooking.
Organic Maple Syrup Products To Try
shopOrganic & shopGMOFree offer several maple syrup options worth exploring. I’ve listed a few below that you might want to try.
Cadia Organic Grade A Maple Syrup, 12 oz., glass bottle.Want to try Grade A? Cadia makes a wonderful Grade A organic maple syrup in a glass bottle perfect for giving or receiving (hint: gift idea). Delicious over pancakes, waffles, in your oatmeal or in any dish you want a delicate maple flavor.
Shady Maple Pure Organic Maple Syrup, Grade B, 32 oz., Plastic jug.This hefty 32 ounce plastic jug from Shady Maple contains 100% pure organic Grade B maple syrup. This is the one I keep on hand for all my baking, cooking and topping needs. This Grade B is not as pretty as its Grade A counterpart, but the price is slightly lower and the flavor more intense, suits me fine.
Frontier Cooperative, Organic Maple Syrup Granules, 16 oz. (dry)Frontier makes organic maple syrup granules, which are course sugar-like granules that can be used as you would any granulated (dry vs. liquid) sweetener. These granules impart that wonderful maple flavor, so it’s a great substitute sugar for baked goods where a maple flavor would add a desired dimension.Or, click here to browse all organic maple syrup products at shopOrganic & shopGMOFree.
This time of year can be tempting with all the delicious food folks cook up and bring to work. This holiday season, I’m trying out new recipes to see if I can put a healthier twist on some of my favorites. This is the first one, though admittedly, it’s not that much healthier than traditional pumpkin pie – but it IS guaranteed to impress for about the same amount of effort as homemade pumpkin pie. Without the crust, it’s certainly fewer calories and next time I make this, I’ll try a vegan version using organic oat milk instead of the luscious half and half.
Here’s how it started – I got a box of Pacific Foods organic pumpkin puree as a trial and thought I’d do something different. With a quiet afternoon (a rare gift in my world) and a recipe in hand, I looked through my pantry to see if I had all the ingredients. Miraculously, I did. Pumpkin souffle ensued.
Tips for making a great soufflé
- Ensure your eggs are at room temperature. Take the out at least 20 minutes in advance.
- When you separate your egg yolks from egg whites, ensure there is NO yolk in the whites.
- Put the whites in a stainless steel bowl that is clean and has no grease or oil at all.
- When you fold in the egg whites, be slow and gentle, it’s worth the extra 10 minutes of effort.
- When you put the ramekins in the oven, do not open the oven at all. Trust your oven and your timer.
4 organic, free range (local, if available) eggs
1 ½ cups Pacific Foods organic pumpkin puree (1 box).
½ cup organic sugar + ¼ cup sugar for egg whites
½ cup organic half & half
½ teaspoon organic vanilla (I use Singing Dog because it has the added bonus of a vanilla bean inside)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
First Things First
Preheat your oven to 375. Make sure one of the racks is in the center of the oven.
Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Ensure no yolk leaks into the whites. (Hint: I separate the egg, then pour the white into another bowl and repeat. That way, if one egg yolk breaks, you haven’t ruined all the egg whites). Set egg whites and egg yolks aside.
Make Your Pumpkin Puree Mixture
In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, ½ cup sugar (use ¼ cup here if you like less sweet, more pumpkin flavor), your spices, vanilla and salt. Set aside. If you’re going to use an alternative to organic granulated cane sugar, you might want to experiment with the recipe once or twice. Who needs the stress of wondering if your ‘new’ recipe will turn out properly on a big holiday?
Prepare 8 ramekins on a baking sheet. I usually melt a bit of organic butter (or soften to room temperature) – about a pat of butter size – and grease the inside of the ramekins. Set on the baking dish and set aside.
Preparing Your Egg Whites
Beat your egg whites with the ¼ tsp of cream of tartar. If using an electric mixer (recommended), start off slowly. As the whites firm up, gradually increase speed. When they are still soft but starting to form peaks, slowly (1-2 TBS at a time is slowly) mix in your remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Continue to beat with all the sugar added until the egg whites are shiny and stiff.
Take about ½ of your pumpkin puree out of the bowl (yes, it makes another dirty bowl, but worth it) and set aside. Slowly fold in the egg whites about a ½ cup at a time into ½ the pumpkin mixture. Once you’ve gently folded in about ½ the egg whites, add the remaining pumpkin puree back into the large bowl and continue folding the egg whites in. The more slowly and the more of a folding motion you use, the more air that will remain in the egg whites and the fluffier your soufflé will turn out.
Fill Your Ramekins
Once all folded in, use a ladle to fill your ramekins to just below the rim.
Bake, Don’t Peek
Place in the middle of your oven at 375 for 17 minutes. Do not open the oven, don’t even turn on the light to peek. At 17 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool. As you can see (below), my souffle caved in a bit – I think my oven is just a shade cooler than 375, so next time, I’ll either use an oven thermometer to verify the temperature or leave them in about three minutes longer. Still, I ate one of the smaller ones and it was perfect – so don’t distress if yours cave a bit upon cooling – it happens and it will still taste amazing and even the best will settle a bit.
You can serve immediately – place each ramekin on a small plate, dust with organic powdered sugar (if desired) or an organic cinnamon/organic sugar mix (you can free form this) or organic whipped cream, some mint sprigs for color – your choice! I serve them just as they are and they’re scrumptious!
Happy Thanksgiving – enjoy these tasty little treats instead of pumpkin pie this holiday season!
I had dinner Monday night with some friends who live in San Diego, CA. We were talking about California Prop 37 which was to introduce mandatory GMO labeling. They indicated that they didn’t think it would pass, though they were in support of it.
A good law poorly crafted?
They had mixed thoughts on this subject because, in their view, they wanted to see GMO labeling of food but they thought the proposition itself was poorly crafted. I hadn’t read it myself, so I can’t speak to that, but in the aftermath of the proposition losing, that may have contributed to the loss.
Prop 37 was defeated by California voters at the polls on Tuesday. Many proponents of honest GMO labeling are likely disappointed today that the proposition failed.
Consumers in California have been bombarded with information and disinformation about GMOs, but they are now AWARE of GMOs and they at least have heard about the dangers.
The silver lining on the defeat of Prop 37
I am an eternal optimist and I believe consumers in California and around the country will take the time and make the effort to educate themselves about GMOs. Jeffrey Smith’s book and documentary, Genetic Roulette, is an excellent starting point for getting up to speed on the discussion about the impact of GMOs not only on our food sources but on our health, and the proper nutrition that would have compelled food manufacturers to indicate when their ingredients included Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) was defeated. I’m disappointed the proposition to require GMO labeling failed, but I’m encourage because it has raised the question and sparked the debate about GMOs in our food.
When we re-launched shopOrganic as shopOrganic & shopGMOfree – For The Greater Goods (sm) – we wanted to underscore not only our commitment to GMO-free foods but to let our customers know that whatever they buy at shopOrganic & shopGMOfree, they can trust it does not contain GMOs. As one of our customers put it “When I shop any where else, I have no idea if the product contains GMOs. When I shop with you, I don’t have to think about it. I just know that if you sell it, it doesn’t have GMOs and that’s all I really need to know. You make it so easy.” GMO labeling would make it really easy, but until then, we’re doing our homework so you don’t have to.
The point is, we are happy to provide that service, but at the end of the day, food manufacturers should have to be more transparent and specific in their GMO labeling. Consumers are savvy and the tide is turning, albeit slowly. Until then, you can shopOrganic & shopGMOfree knowing everything we offer is organic and/or GMO-free.
Now that the elections are over, perhaps we can continue to educate consumers about GMOs and eventually require manufacturers to label GMOs or better yet, stop using them. Onward.
Photo credit: cheeseslave
I just finished watching the movie Genetic Roulette online for the third time. Each time I watch it, I notice some new facet about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) that I hadn’t noticed as clearly before. This time, it was the stark fact that the chemical companies who promote GMOs have been promising that the use of GMOs would create higher yields of food and therefore feed the world. Read the Union of Concern Scientists’ Failure to Yield report.
The truth is quite different. First, without GMOs, there is plenty of food in the world to feed everyone. The problem is not the production of food, but the distribution of food which is a whole other problem to solve. So, let’s put that misinformation to rest.
Still, chemical companies would have you believe that we NEED GMOs in order to manage our production so we can all eat more at a lower cost. In most industrialized nations, the problem is not about having enough food and it’s become more a problem of having healthy food.
According to the Union of Concern Scientists, the promises of increased production are false. According to the USC, “Despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase U.S. crop yields.”
In fact, many farmers are beginning to see that their yields are lower after buying these GMO seeds and spraying chemical products on those seeds. One cotton farmer interviewed in Genetic Roulette said he began to really question his initial decision to use GMO seed when he began reading the dire health warnings on the seed bag itself. Don’t eat it, don’t touch it, don’t breath it, don’t let it touch your skin….sounds like the warning label on poison, doesn’t it?
The bottom line is this – chemical companies like Monsanto have been promoting the use of chemicals under the promise of higher yields (i.e. more crops for the farmer as lower costs), and that has not been the case. As farmers see their crop yields drop and their animals suffer from eating GMO crops, they’re beginning to understand that their livelihood depends on them NOT using GMOs.
The tide is turning and as the links between GMOs and human health, livestock health, crop yields and agricultural sustainability are known, people will vote with their dollars and avoid GMOs. Our health as a nation, as a world and as a species literally depends on it.