For The Greater Goods (sm)

Susan

Why Organic Matters To You – Share Your Story!

Why Organic?

shopOrganic co-founder ponders the question of why organic matters during Organic Harvest Month

In just the past few weeks, I’ve had some remarkable conversations with people when they find out I am one of why organicthe co-founders of shopOrganic.com; the topic of ‘Why Organic’ keeps coming up. In one conversation, three women and two men spontaneously started asking questions about whether we offered specific products. Thankfully, my product knowledge (we have over 4,000 products) was strong enough that I was able to answer almost all of their questions – but what it showed me is how many people, who are well-informed on the benefits of organic and non-GMO foods, are still looking for a trusted source for organic products. My takeaway was that we have a lot of upside potential to make shopOrganic better known! In another conversation just last night, I was at a social function for women in leadership in the community (thank you Quarles & Brady for that wonderful event) and when I stood to introduce myself and mentioned shopOrganic.com, there was a fairly loud outburst of chatter – mostly “I need to write that down” and “what was the URL again?” – and my conversations throughout the evening focused around food (my favorite topic) and how clean food is so important to health. “Why Organic” came up again and again as we talked about healthy, clean food choices.

If that’s all I had to report, it would be a short story. But there’s more. In the first event, one woman later told me she was a breast cancer survivor and though she’d always eaten a nutritionally sound diet, she hadn’t really ‘put much stock in organic.’ After her diagnosis, she told me, she got really serious about looking at what she was putting in and on her body. Her answer to ‘Why Organic’, was that organic food, organic body care and non-toxic cleaning products were the only sane way to approach her post-diagnosis life. I’m happy to report she is 100% healthy and cancer-free now, and she is a strong advocate for organic products. It was affirming to hear from her perspective why organic was so vital to the health of our bodies and our planet.

At the event last night, one woman sat down with me and told me how she’d been tired, stressed from work and running ragged for months. She’d been putting on weight gradually (stress weight) and that things just weren’t going smoothly. She had decided about three weeks ago to clean up her diet. She stopped eating a lot of processed foods and moved to cooking more and using organic and non-GMO ingredients – from fresh fruits and vegetables (always important) to organic grains, nuts, dried fruits, juices and more. She said she felt better in three weeks than she’d felt in years and was astounded at how much more energy she had. Her answer to ‘Why Organic’ was  connected to her increased energy after eating a much cleaner diet.  She clearly came to understand the connection between the things she eats and the way she feels. While that can be said of conventional ‘junk’ food versus a nutritious diet, she took it one step further and also made the connection between chemicals (additives or residual) in conventional foods, even those deemed health, and her own health. She’s convinced that organic food is the most healthful approach and she’s begun incorporating organic food into her diet. She, of course, was thrilled to find out about shopOrganic.com.

These heart-felt conversations made me understand that more and more people are making the connection between their health and the health of the planet. It sometimes is slow going, a one-by-one process, but ultimately that’s how things change. I was heartened to hear these stories and wanted to share them with you. This month is organic month and to celebrate, I’d love to hear your story.

Delicious Gluten Free Organic Foods Do Exist

A few years back, gluten free foods were not particularly tasty, but folks with gluten sensitivities didn’t have a lot of options – forget trying to find gluten free organic foods. Fast forward to 2013 and you can find a wide variety of gluten free organic products from breads to pastas, beverages to snacks.

Why Gluten Free Organic Foods?

The term “gluten free” covers wide territory and as people with Celiac disease and gluten sensitivities know, it’s not “one size fits all.”  People sensitive to gluten have a variety of physical reactions to gluten and tolerance ranges from high to low which can result in mild stomach upset to life-threatening allergic responses. Unfortunately, a lot of gluten free foods are filled with chemicals and ingredients that aren’t good for you and can contribute to the problem.

However, there are a lot of gluten free organic foods now available so you can choose healthy foods within a gluten free diet. It still takes some effort, because not all foods are created equal. For instance, some oatmeal is gluten free, some is not. Bob’s Red Mill, a popular organic food brand, carries both a gluten free organic oatmeal and a non-gluten free organic oatmeal. As a consumer with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, there are lots of choices available, but you still have to read labels and pay close attention.

 

Where To Find Gluten Free Organic Foods

The first place to start is in your grocery’s organic produce section. You can’t go wrong with fresh organic fruits and vegetables as the mainstay of your diet. However, few people live on fruits and vegetables alone – and a natural addition to most diets are beans and grains. That’s where finding gluten free organic food options can be challenging. Bread, crackers, grains and other starches you might naturally add to your diet need to be carefully selected.

shopOrganic offers a wide variety of gluten free organic foods to make your gluten free shopping experience easy. We’ve created an entire section of gluten free organic and natural products just so you don’t have to hunt-and-peck looking for gluten free organic foods.

Needing to be on a gluten free diet used to be a very dull alternative, but thankfully there are hundreds of delicious, nutritious gluten free organic foods to choose from these days!

Top 10 Organic Baking Ingredients

At shopOrganic, I’m the one who’s the baker in the group so when the team asked if I would write about my top ten organic baking ingredients, I naturally jumped at the chance. I’ve been baking since I was a kid, but it was only in the last decade I started using organic baking ingredients – and I’ve noticed a difference. The flavors are deeper and the end results are delectable. So, let’s take a look at organic baking ingredients and why they matter.organic baking ingredients

Organic products contain no artificial colors, no additives, no chemicals and most important, no pesticides or Genetically Modified Organisms (organic is, by definition, GMO-free). So, you’re packing in flavor and nutrition without all that other nonsense.  Baked goods made from organic baking ingredients have great flavor and texture.

Top Ten Organic Baking Ingredients

1. Organic pastry flour – if you want a great pastry or any other baked good that requires flour with a bit less protein content. Protein gives flour structure when used in baked goods, so a pastry flour needs to be softer, more delicate. Organic pastry flour is top on my list of organic baking ingredients.

2.  Organic coconut oil – organic coconut oil can be substituted for just about any kind of oil, but you need to be aware that organic coconut oil is so flavorful that you need to be OK with the flavor of coconut subtly infused in your baked goods.

3. Organic raw honey – honey is a great sweetener for baked goods, but you need to adjust your liquids down to accommodate for the liquid provided by the honey. The sweetness of honey is warm and mellow, not as sweet as cane sugar, so it can be a great choice for soft, subtle flavors.

4. Organic cane sugar – sometimes you need sugar for a recipe and nothing else will do quite as well. For example, I’ve found that when I need to cream organic butter and sugar, organic cane sugar is the best choice. The process of creaming these two ingredients adds air to the butter, so using cane sugar is a good choice.

5. Organic coconut flour – this is a unique ingredient that adds fiber and great flavor to your baked ingredients. Coconut flour absorbs liquids more than wheat flour, so mix ¼ coconut flour and ¾ wheat flour for best results – you may need to adjust your liquids a bit as well.

6. Organic quinoa flour – this is a delicate, flavorful flour you can use for in just about any recipe. Full of protein and fiber, you can use in place of regular flour or mix ½ and ½.

7.  Sea salt – though not technically “organic”, sea salt adds a depth of flavor you won’t find in standard commercial salt. There are many different types of sea salt and you can experiment with which you like best – Portuguese, French, Himalayan, Hawaiian and more. Each has a unique flavor profile and you can try different  salts for different recipes.

8. Active dry yeast – another product that’s natural (vs. organic), but still worth a shout out is active dry yeast. Here’s a tip – use fresh yeast that’s within its “best by” date so it has the most leavening power. Old, out of date yeast will disappoint you in the rise you get on your yeast baked goods.

9. Organic pecans – honestly, of all the nuts to bake with, organic pecans are my hands-down favorite. Their naturally sweet flavor becomes sweeter and nuttier with the heat of the over. Use whole or pieces, I put them in just about everything.

10. Organic Medjool dates – dates are a great way to sweeten baked goods, but they also add a wonderful flavor, texture and fiber. You can mash them, dice them or slice them into you baked goods.

No matter what you like to bake, organic baking ingredients make your baked goods tastier and certainly healthier. Give a few of these ingredients a try and let us know YOUR favorites or add to the list!

Our Top Ten Organic Brands

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

Top Organic BrandsFirst 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.

 

2. Bionaturae

Top Organic BrandsNext 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

Top Organic BrandsAlso 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

Top Organic BrandsNo 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.

 

5. Greenshield

Top Organic BrandsOur 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.

 

6. Jovial

Top Organic BrandsJovial 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

Top Organic BrandsNo 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

Top Organic BrandsAlso 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.

9. Nourish

Top Organic BrandsOur 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

Top Organic BrandsLast 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!

Organic Food Labeling – A Simple Guide To Organic Labels

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 –

Organic Food Labeling

Image courtesy of USDA National Organic Program

100% Organic

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

National Organic Program/ USDA
Orgeon Tilth
CCOF
QAI

Label GMOs – What Will It Take?

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?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?

Top Five Tips For Keeping Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

Keeping Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

New Year's resolution
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.

START SMALL

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.

BE KIND

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!

RESOURCES

Canyon Ranch Health
Shape Fit Fitness and Exercise Guide
Yoga Online
shopOrganic & shopGMOfree Healthy, Organic Products

Fast, Delicious Organic Soup Recipe – Spinach Potato Soup

Organic Vegan Spinach Soup

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

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:

Tools:
Large pot
Vegetable steamer
Immersion blender or food processor

Ingredients:
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

Directions:

1. Place the large pot on the stove, add 4 cups of water or low sodium vegetable or chicken broth. If you want vegan soup, use water or vegetable broth.
2. Wash and slice the potato into thin slices (1/4 inch)
3. Place potato slices in the large pan then add the steamer to the pot.
4. Place the spinach in the steamer, put a lid on the pot, turn heat on medium.
5. Allow the spinach to steam, the boiling water will cook the potato.
6. Once the spinach is steamed, pop the steamer and check the potato, it should be soft.
7. Remove the steamer basket, please the spinach and potato in the food processor. Add about 1 cup of liquid.
8. Blend and add nutmeg (about 1/8 tsp or to taste), salt and white pepper.
9. Add additional liquid from your pot to thin the soup to desired consistency.
10. Serve with a few shavings of fresh carrot (for color), a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and serve!

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?
Organic nutmeg

Wizard of Oz? Dr. Oz and GMOs

Dr. Mehmet OzDr. 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.

Thoughts?

Resources

Genetic Roulette, The Movie

Cornucopia Institute

Organic Maple Syrup: When Getting a “B” Can Be Better than “A”

B Can Be Greater Than A

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.

Organic Maple Syrup, Grade B
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.
Organic Maple Syrup, Grade A
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.
Organic Maple Syrup Granules
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.
More Info For You:
 On Food And Cooking, Harold McGee
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