We all know that certain aromas will invoke particular feelings. Like the warm comforting smell of fresh baked cookies making you feel good, scent is a powerful way to affect mood. Using essential oils to affect your mood – whether for relaxation, energizing or other effects – is highly effective and simple to do.
Our olfactory system contains 50 million smell receptors in the nasal cavity and is part of the brain’s limbic system, also known as the “emotional brain”. Smelling a certain scent can create a powerful response almost instantly. Because essential oils evaporate quickly, their molecules are easily inhaled. The inhalation of the naturally occurring synergistic chemicals in essential oils provide triggers to our brain which effect our emotional state.
There are certain essential oils that I go to more frequently than others – for mood elevation, for relaxation, or for focus. Below I’ve listed some of my favorites along with how to use them:
Seven Essential Oils For Improved Mood & More
1 – Bergamot – a very calming essential oil, it can be applied topically, inhaled directly or used in a diffuser. With a sweet citrus scent, Bergamot is helpful for both depression and anxiety, producing calming and uplifting feelings. Note: This oil is sensitive to direct sunlight. If you apply it to your skin, wait 24 hours before exposing that skin to sunlight.
2 – Chamomile - this deep, rich, herbaceous scent is helpful for dispelling anger and irritability, clearing the mind and bringing stability to emotions. Diffuse it or inhale it directly from the bottle. It can be used topically for inflamed skin, to ease arthritis, headaches, sprains and muscle aches.
3 – Geranium – this sweet, fresh, flowery scent helps relieve tension and stress. Can be used topically to relieve acne and oily skin.
4 – Lavender- possibly the most popular essential oil, Lavender can both relax and uplift, depending on what you need at the time. Beneficial for anxiety, depression, irritability, panic attacks and reducing stress. It is relaxing yet keeps you alert at the same time. Lavender can also be used topically for cuts, burns, bug bits and stings.
5 – Sweet Orange - this sweet citrusy essential oil is a powerful anti-depressant. Add a few drops to a a spray bottle with water, shake and spray a room to instantly freshen and brighten the room. This essential oil is also antiseptic and anti-inflammatory which makes it a good for swollen gums – just add a couple of drops to warm salt water and swish in the mouth for relief.
6 – Rosemary – invigorating, stimulating and refreshing, this essential oil is beneficial for memory and concentration. Got a big exam or presentation coming up? Use Rosemary while you study or prepare then use it again the day of your event and your sense memory will kick in and give you an extra boost. Also great for staying alert during long drives. Used topically, Rosemary is good for respiratory issues, arthritis and improving circulation.
7 – Clary Sage – this essential oil helps ease fear and anxiety, as well as grief, exhaustion and burnout. During menopause, clary sage can help reduce hot flashes, night sweats, palpitations, irritability, as well as headaches and dizziness. Use topically for PMS symptoms and cramps.
Because essential oils are very potent in their pure form, most essential oils should be blended with a carrier oil, like almond, sesame or jojoba oil, before using topically. For inhaling, essential oils can be sniffed directly from the bottle or you can place a few drops on a tissue or cloth. For help with relaxation and sleep, you can place a few drops on your pillowcase. To diffuse a scent throughout a room, you can use an aromatherapy diffuser or add a few drops to a water spray bottle and spritz whenever you need it.
Essential oils can be blended together in a synergistic way to create even more powerful combinations. I highly recommend the book The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 600 Natural, Non-Toxic and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health Beauty a Safe Home Environment for more an in depth resource guide to creating your own blends.
Since essential oils are very powerful, be sure to check for any contraindications before using them, especially if you are pregnant. Also, make sure to use pure essential oils, not synthetic. Buying organic essential oils is the best choice so that you know you’re getting a quality pure essential oil and not a synthetic chemical compound.
How do you like to use essential oils?
Do you have a special mom in your life and want to honor her with a great Mother’s Day gift? I hope so! Today I’m going to help you out a bit, with an easy guide on what kind of organic mother’s day gifts to give to that special organic momma in your life.
Mother’s Day Gifts For the Gardener Momma
Do you have a mom in your life who has that special green thumb and loves to garden? Maybe a mom who has expressed wanting to start a small herb garden? Here’s an idea for this momma:
Botanical Interests Seeds – Pick her out some seeds, and make a little garden basket with some gardening gloves, a couple small gardening tools and to be cute you could add in a few of these Gardentime pasta products.
Mother’s Day Gifts For the Mom with a Sweet Tooth
Do you a special mom in your life who loves sweets? Get her some organic sweet treats to satisfy that craving in a healthier way:
Wholesome Chow – These baking products are a great idea for the gluten free baker. Or you can even try your hand at baking and bake her up a fabulous cake and give her a package of the same product for her to make on her own.
Sedona Chocolates - These raw, organic dark chocolates are a special treat. Any mom is going to love you with these goodies. Trust me!
Sweet Tooth Gift Basket – A special collection of organic sweets and treats.
Torie & Howard Organic Candies – Hard candies for a sophisticated palate.
Mother’s Day Gifts For the New Momma
We all probably know a special someone in our life who is expecting a little one, or maybe they are a brand new momma. Here are some wonderful products for an expecting mom, a brand new mom or even a veteran momma having her 4th baby!
Earth Mama Angel Baby Products – I’m a mom who makes all my own baby products, but when I’m not in the mood to make a product then I go straight to Earth Mama Products. I absolutely love them and highly recommend them. My favorite product by far is the Bottom Balm.
Baby Sunscreen – Summer is just around the corner, any mom will appreciate their baby having little added protection from the sun, and without all those horrible chemicals.
Diapers – If your special mom is doing disposable diapers for her baby, here is a wonderful natural option!
Baby food – This would be a fun gift. Pick out a few baby food items and throw in a few baby spoons for a sweet little baby basket.
Mother’s Day Gifts For the Foodie Mom
Here are some awesome options for the food loving mom in your life:
Gourmet Oil & Vinegar Gift Set – Organic olive oil paired with delicate organic golden balsamic vinegar and bold balsamic vinegar.
Salts – Does your foodie mom love to cook? You can’t go wrong with these salts. Not only are they perfect for cooking but these salts contain a ton of essential minerals that our bodies need!
Mother’s Day Gifts For the Coffee Mom
Here are some wonderful organic options for that “I need my Coffee momma” in your life.
And Finally, Mother’s Day Gifts For the Mom That Needs a Break!
Yep, moms have some of the toughest jobs out there. They work 24/7 and don’t complain about it. Even though they might not admit to it… well they might… moms all need a little break some times for themselves. Here are some great options to help mom, take some time for herself and just relax and breathe!
Dr. Bronner’s Soaps – She will be sure to love these soaps. There are so many beautiful scents that you just can’t go wrong.
I hope this helps you decide on what to get the organic mom in your life. What special things have you done for your mom for past Mother’s Days?
Almonds by far are the most used nut in my home. I use organic almonds for everything from making milk and butter, tasty snacks and even savory meals too. I just love the versatility of almonds. Not only that, but raw organic almonds are jam packed with health benefits. Now… if we could just get everyone to SOAK their almonds. By soaking nuts we can unlock even more health benefits that nuts hold. Almonds have an acid and an enzyme inhibitor in their brown skin that actual protects itself against sunlight and moisture. So without removing that inhibitor it actually makes it more difficult for us to digest and we don’t absorb the nutrients well. By soaking the almonds we can shed off its skin which releases the enzymes so that we can then digest them much easier and absorb all of their nutrients.
Here are a few health benefits of soaking organic almonds:
- Easy to digest- After soaking you will notice the texture is a little different, they are easier to eat and is easier for children to eat them as well. Because they are easier to chew this will help with digestion and us being able to absorb the nutrients.
- 1 ounce of organic almonds (about 20 to 25 almonds) can contain as much calcium as 1/4 cup of milk. Also, almonds are a great source of magnesium and phosphorous, which are important minerals for building strong bones.
- Almonds are wonderful for brain health they contain two vital brain nutrients, riboflavin and L-carnitine, which have been shown to increase brain activity, resulting in new neural pathways and a decreased occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Almonds have two very important fatty acids, both linoleic and linolenic acids. Those fatty acids help to reduce inflammation all around the body, which unfortunately most of us suffer from. The fatty acids also help to reduce the levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL cholesterol), and they promote healthy skin and hair! All in all, almonds pack a powerful, healthy punch.
Almonds contain folic acid, which helps reduce the incidence of birth defects in newborn babies. It also stimulates healthy cell growth and tissue formation.
How to Soak Organic Almonds (for optimal nutrient benefits):
- 2 -4 cups of organic almonds
- Sea salt
In a large glass bowl add your almonds, sprinkle a little sea salt then poor filtered or purified water over almonds so they are completely covered. Leave them to soak overnight or up to 10 hours. Drain them well then store in jars or storage containers and store in the fridge for up to a week. Also if you have a dehydrator you can dry them on low heat or (nut seed setting) until slightly crispy and store them. Use them like you would any recipes or just for a perfect snack!
What’s your favorite way to prepare and/or eat almonds?
I myself am a stay a home mom, but I am student right now, so from that aspect I know how precious time can be, especially when you’re in a crunch. It’s during these times that it’s nice to have some healthy, organic baby foods that are convenient for moms and dads to give their baby. Today I’m going to give you a list of some of the best organic baby food choices for those days that you are on the go and need something quick, organic and guilt free to feed your baby!
NurturMe- NurturMe (or NurturMeals) are the first and only certified-organic, gluten-free dried fruit and veggie meals created for children 6 months to 4 years. NurturMeal organic baby foods bring together nutrient-packed super-foods such as green kale, quinoa, squash and banana (and so many more varieties) to develop young taste buds with creative and delicious combos. These are rich in nutrition and super versatile. Try them on their own or mixed into other foods for extra nutrition. Simply mix it up, and mix it in!
Healthy Times products are made from organically grown ingredients, no preservatives or artificial additives. Healthy Times is the only exclusive organic baby foods company providing mothers with products that are USDA certified organic, certified kosher by OU, and addresses baby’s allergies by offering wheat free, dairy free, soy free products for sensitive babies. They have a wide array of products from jarred baby foods, teething biscuits, cookies and cereals and they even make baby care products.
Ella’s Kitchen – These were one of my toddlers favorites! I still get them for her from time to time. Ella’s Kitchen’s products are USDA certified organic baby foods and are extremely handy for moms and dads. They are great for the little ones. Is your child sensitive to a food? No problem. On the packaging of Ella’s Kitchen products, they state clearly if it’s vegetarian, gluten free and lactose free.
Are you a working parent or just a busy on-the-go parent? If so, what healthy organic baby foods have been helpful for you?
Spring is finally here; have you been loving spring in your area so far? I’m in the Northwest and it’s been pretty beautiful. I made the first of my organic recipes for springtime the other day and it was so much fun. My toddler and I went out in our little back yard and we picked a whole bunch of dandelion! Yes, the weed dandelion is edible and highly nutritious. It can be somewhat bitter but the first pick of dandelion in spring is the tastiest. It has the texture of spinach with a taste more like kale.
I feel like I can hear some of you already saying “Is she actually going to eat that?!” The answer is YES! Dandelion is one of the Earth’s superfoods and it’s one of the most nutrient dense greens we can eat. Learn more about Dandelion here.
After the first flowers bloom (or you mow your yard) is when the leaves start tasting bitter, at least that’s what I’ve found. I took advantage of the first pick and we got a couple good bowls filled. When we got inside I had no idea what I wanted to make, it was almost dinnertime and my kids were wanting eggs. That’s when I figured I just throw a quick egg bake together with the dandelion, and they loved it! The whole thing was devoured in less than 10 minutes. I guess it helps that bacon was in it… bacon makes EVERYTHING taste better
Organic Recipes for Spring: Dandelion, Bacon & Egg Bake
- 2 cups chopped fresh picked dandelion (can’t get anymore organic than that!)
- 8 eggs (organic, pasture raised, free range is best)
- 1lb of uncured organic bacon
- 1T Fat (I used organic ghee for this recipe, but coconut oil would be fine too)
- sea salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease 8×11 inch baking dish, here I used a 9″ pie plate and greased generously with ghee.
Throw all the ingredients together and whisk well. I actually like to cheat and use my blender (it’s quick and easy and works perfectly). Bake until firm in center. This took me about 30-35 minutes in my oven. Some people do like it softer so if that’s you, start checking for your preferred firmness around 25min.
Serve right away. I ate my serving on top of dandelion greens and thinly sliced onions. My kids…well they ate theirs with organic ketchup.
*This is just a very basic recipe, feel free to throw any other veggies in there or even some cheese!
Think you are brave enough to try some dandelion out? You just might be pleasantly surprised!
Here are some other great Organic Recipes for Spring:
Dr. Oz’s Green Drink (one of my favorite smoothies, and perfect ingredients for spring)
What are your favorite organic recipes for Springtime?
Hulled barley has been around for a long time, however, we don’t hear about it much these days. Dr. Oz recently published an article on the benefits of hulled barley and so we thought we’d dig a bit deeper and list all of the health benefits we could find for this amazing superfood!
10 Important Health Benefits of Hulled Barley
- Hulled barley is high in beta glucan, which helps lower cholesterol levels.
- It’s a good source of selenium (shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer).
- It contains niacin (the B vitamin that protects against cardiovascular risk factors).
- Provides lignans (a phytonutrient thought to protect against breast cancer).
- Hulled barley has the most fiber of any whole grain, and so it helps protect against cancer as it can help speed food through your digest track.
- It can help prevent heart disease.
- It includes healthy doses of iron, protein, and calcium.
- Barley can help prevent gallstones.
- Can help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Many studies have shown barley being linked to protection against diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity and premature death.
How to Curb Your Hunger with Hulled Barley
What if I told you that eating hulled barley is not only very beneficial to your health, but it can also help reduce an insatiable appetite? Hulled barley is actually an all-natural appetite suppressant. The fiber in hulled barley expands in your stomach making you feel fuller for longer. So include it in your meals day-to-day and start curbing your hunger for high-calorie foods.
Hulled Barley Recipes
There are so many different ways you can incorporate hulled barley into your diet and every meal (soups, salads, breakfast, etc.). It can be made into a breakfast porridge like oatmeal, or used in the place of rice or other grains. It can be used in hot dishes as well as cold salads. Here a are a few recipes you can try:
Do you incorporate hulled barley into your diet? If so, what is your favorite way to do so?
Now that we are about a week into April, I thought it was fitting to bring to you some fun facts, health benefits and recipes for organic pecans! Why? Because April is National Pecan Month! Now, let’s look into why this slightly sweet, delicious nut is so wonderful!
- Pecans are a Native American tree nut which is actually a member of the Hickory family.
- Pecans were an important food for the Indian tribes of the Southern United States before Europeans settled.
- George Washington was known to frequently carry a stash of pecans in his pocket, and Thomas Jefferson dedicated part of his time to help cultivate them.
- The US produces about 80% of the world’s pecan supply.
Organic Pecans Health Benefits and why you should eat them:
1. They’re packed with 19 vitamins and minerals in just one serving (1 ounce=19 halves).
2. 1 serving contains 60% Manganese which is a naturally occurring mineral in our bodies and is a powerful antioxidant which seeks out and destroys the free radicals in our body.
3. Organic pecans have no cholesterol in them.
4. Eating just a handful a day may help protect the nervous system against neurological diseases.
5. Pecans are the highest ranked nut for antioxidant content.
6. Pecans are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and an excellent source of phenolic antioxidants. Regular addition of pecan nuts in the diet helps to decrease total as well as LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases HDL or “good cholesterol” levels in the blood.
7. Organic pecans are a good source of protein with about 3g per serving.
8. One serving provides 10% in your daily fiber intake.
9. They help regulate your body’s metabolism.
10. The nuts are very rich sources of several important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates.
11. These nuts are a good source of vitamin A, which helps vision and bone growth.
Get organic pecans in your diet:
- Eat a handful a day.
- Lightly toast them and throw them on a salad.
- Chop them up on sprinkle them on your favorite ice cream.
- Crush or grind them to make a yummy crust for your favorite protein (meat, poultry, fish, etc.).
- Soak and dehydrate them which makes them easier to digest.
- Blend them in a high power blender to make pecan butter or buy it here.
One of my favorite recipes is Chocolate Pecan Brownie Bites (or bars):
- 1 cup Organic Pecans
- 2 cups dates
- 2-4 tablespoons raw cacao powder (depending how chocolatey you want it)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (I always use the non alcohol kind)
- A pinch or two of salt.
- 1 ounce of a dark chocolate bard chopped.
Throw all the ingredients in your food processor expect for the 1 ounce of dark chocolate and process until it blogs up into a big crumbly dough. I like to test it for stickiness: grab a piece of the dough to see if when you press it together it sticks nicely. If it’s still too crumbly sometimes I just add a table spoon of coconut oil or a few more dates. When it’s sticky enough to your liking you have a few different options: you can lay out some parchment paper on pan and scoop out by tablespoons and roll into balls, or you can form the whole dough into a flat rectangle shape. When done forming your shape you can add some of the chopped dark chocolate to the top or your balls or sprinkle over your rectangle form and press into the dough. Now chill in your refrigerator for a couple hours until firm and chewy, after chilled you can cut the dough you formed in to a big rectangle, into bars and store in the freezer for a quick snack.
More great Pecan recipes:
Sweet Crispy Pecans (personal favorite)
Grain Free Granola (feel free to use ALL pecans for the nut ingredient)
Hope you enjoy your next handful of pecans now. How do you incorporate pecans into your diet?
Spring is officially here. I love this time of year, when all things become new again. It the perfect time to start your Spring Cleaning. It’s always a refreshing feeling when we can clean our homes and make it feel fresh and new! For those of you who dread doing anything with the word CLEAN in it, I’ll try to help you make it as painless as possible. This year instead of cleaning the traditional way with chemical-laden cleaning products that do more damage to our environment and bodies than good, let’s switch out those products with more organic or natural cleaning products that are environmentally safe!
To make the switch to all natural cleaning products easy, I’m going to name well-known conventional product brand names and list natural cleaning product alternatives. Here we go!
Natural Cleaning Products for the Kitchen
Instead of these dishwasher detergents: Cascade, Finish or Ajax,
try Ecover Zero-Natural Automatic Dishwashing Powder or Tablets.
Instead of those Pledge or Clorox surface wipes,
try GreenShield Organics- Biodegradable Fresh Sent Surface.
Natural Cleaning Products for Laundry
Instead of Shout and Spray n’ Wash for stain removers,
try Ecover Stain Remover.
Instead of Woolite for delicates,
try Ecover Delicate Wash.
Natural Cleaning Products for the Bathroom
Instead of KaBoom Tub and tile cleaner
try Naturally Clean-Tub and Tile Spray Cleaner.
Instead of Soft Scrub,
try Ecover-Cream Scrub.
Natural Cleaning Products for the Home
Now that you know there are natural cleaning products for all those traditional conventional products, I hope you start going through your cabinets and start swappin’ out the bad with the good! Trust me you will feel so much better making the switch! Which are your favorite natural cleaning products?
Learn more about how to make the switch to Green Cleaning.
Have you seen the study that came out recently that found that eating meat and cheese is as unhealthy as smoking cigarettes? The study, published by the University of Southern California found that excessive protein consumption is linked to a dramatic rise in cancer mortality and that middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources including meat, milk and cheese are also more susceptible to early death in general. While it’s not necessary to go completely vegan to get the health benefits of eating less animal products, these vegan recipes will make it easier if that’s your goal.
In honor of the Great American Meatout, I’m sharing three of my favorite vegan recipes. Since I eat a vegan diet and I love to cook, I’ve played with lots of vegan recipes to make them satisfying and delicious. The Great American Meatout encourages people to pledge to go vegan for a day, for one day per week, or every day. Reducing or eliminating your intake of meat and dairy is possibly one of the best things you can do for your health. When giving up meat and dairy, its still important to eat a whole food diet, so don’t get sucked in to buying meat analogues – they’re full of processed junk and you don’t need them to make a satisfying meal. These vegan recipes will make you forget you ever needed meat and cheese.
Three Amazing Vegan Recipes
Vegan Recipe #1: Macaroni and Cheese
8oz organic dry pasta of your choice
1 1/2 cups raw cashews
3 TBSP fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
Soak the raw cashews in filtered water for about an hour, then drain and add them along with the rest of the ingredients into a blender – a high powered blender like a VitaMix or Blendtec works best but a regular blender will do, you’ll just need to blend for a longer amount of time. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. You can use any type of pasta you like: quinoa pasta, gluten free pasta, whole wheat pasta, semolina pasta. Elbow pasta or shells are traditionally used for mac and cheese but use whatever shape you like. When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and pour the sauce into the pot and heat through. You can serve the mac and cheese just like this or to make it even better, add some cooked broccoli, spinach, peas, mushrooms or any other veggies that you’d like.
Vegan Recipe #2: Three Bean Chili
1 TBSP Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 TBSP cumin powder
3 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
15oz can black beans
15oz can pinto peans
15oz can red kidney beans
28oz can diced tomatoes
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 TBSP chia seeds
In a large pot, heat the oil on medium heat. Add garlic, pepper, onion, carrot and sauté until everything is soft, 5-10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and cover, simmering for about 30 minutes on medium heat. The chia will thicken the chili quite a bit so if you find that it is too thick, add a little bit of water.
Vegan Recipe #3: Meatballs
1 cup (packed) fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
8 oz organic tempeh
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup cooked hulled barley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried fennel seed
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Chop the tempeh into small pieces; it should be crumbly. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the oil and garlic. When the garlic is aromatic, add the chopped spinach and a tablespoon of water. When the spinach is wilted, add the tempeh, stir to combine then add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and barley. Stir to combine then turn off the heat to let the mixture cool. In a bowl, mix together the vital wheat gluten, flour, nutritional yeast, salt, basil, oregano, dried pepper flakes and fennel. Add the tomato/spinach/tempeh mixture to the bowl. Stir to combine and knead for a couple of minutes. This helps the gluten keep the meatballs in a ball shape. Form 1 inch balls from the mixture; place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. This makes about 35 meatballs. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn them over. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Take them out of the oven and let them cool undisturbed for 5-10 minutes. This allows the inside of the meatball to become firm. At this point you can choose what to do with your meatballs. Add them to marinara, make a swedish meatball sauce, slice them thin and put on pizza, make spaghetti and meatballs, sliders, its up to you.
What are some of your favorite vegan recipes? Share with us in the comments below!
I get many questions about this topic. How do I know if I’m buying organic food? How do I know if it’s safe to buy? What does “All Natural” mean? Well, this is my goal today, to help you find and buy organic food easily and give you some tips for what to watch out for.
I’ll start with what to watch out for. You need to ALWAYS be wary of the word “Natural” on a product especially if it’s a processed food product (packaged). All I can say is to ignore it. Unlike the term “Organic” which is highly regulated, the term “Natural” only means that the product doesn’t contain artificial colors and flavors. There can still be plenty of unnatural ingredients in products simply labeled “Natural”. Read more HERE.
How to read organic labels
Even today I run into people who don’t understand the importance of organic food or why they need to buy them. Honestly, buying organic food and especially organic whole foods have never been so important. There are many reasons to buy organic; here are the big ones:
- No toxic pesticides
- Support local farmers and preserves family farms
- No GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms)
- High nutritional value
- Very few cases of food poisoning have ever been linked to organic foods or farm processor
- Humane treatment of animals and animals cannot be fed slaughterhouse waste
- Organic Farming prohibits use of sewage sludge
- Organic certification prohibits irradiation
How to read labels to find organic food
How do I know if fresh produce is organic?
If you are trying to find organic produce, what you need to look at is the PLU code. If it has 5 numbers starting with a 9, that is organic. This also might be accompanied with or without the USDA Organic Label sticker. Conventional produce will have 4 numbers usually starting with a 4 or a 3.
What about packaged items?
These are what you might see on packaged items:
- “100% Organic”: If you see this on a package then all the ingredients in that package are organic and it may have the USDA organic seal on it.
- “Organic”: When a package is labeled organic then it means that the ingredients in that package are at least 95-99% organic. The product may also bear the USDA organic seal on the package.
- “Made with Organic Ingredients”: What this means is that the ingredients must contain 70-94% organic ingredients. It will NOT have the USDA organic seal on it. Instead the package may list a certifying agency like QAI, CCOF or one of many independent organic certifying agencies. The ingredients list will identify which ingredients are organic.
- If the product is below 70% organic it will not have the USDA organic seal and it might only list organic ingredients in the nutritional information panel.
Even if a producer is certified organic, the use of the USDA organic label is voluntary. Some brands have higher standards than USDA and have chosen not to use their certification; Eden Foods is a good example of this.
Many people ask about the remainder of the ingredients in a 95% organic or 70% organic product. Those remaining ingredients still have to meet a strict set of standards – they cannot contain GMO’s and they cannot contain artificial ingredients. Oftentimes in a USDA organic product, the only things that aren’t organic are salts and those can’t be considered organic because they are minerals.
Also, not every food producer wants to go through the rigorous process of becoming certified. This is especially true of small farm operations who cannot afford to go through the process. So when shopping at a farmers’ market, don’t be scared to ask how they grow their food. Also, if you are shopping at a grocery store and in the produce section you see “Farmed Locally”, many times it is organic and a much better choice than conventional. If you are concerned just find someone to ask!
I hope this helps your shopping a little easier when trying to make sense of the organic food labels. Do you have any tips of your own that I missed? Leave them in the comments!