Last month I was coming home from a trip on a cramped and full flight. After holding my body in an uncomfortable position for over an hour, I wound up with lingering pain in my right shoulder. I tried massaging it out, using muscle balms and ointments and nothing worked. I don’t like to take prescription or over the counter drugs but after not being able to sleep due to the pain, gave in to using ibuprofen. It helped with the pain but if I stopped taking it, the pain came back. I was frustrated and I remembered that I’d heard that organic turmeric was as effective or more effective than NSAID pain relievers. I had nothing to lose so gave it a shot. Within 36 hours of taking turmeric regularly, the pain was gone. I continued taking it for a few more days just to be sure and when I stopped, the pain didn’t come back. Score for organic turmeric!
While I was taking organic turmeric, I decided to see what else it was good for and I found quite a bit of evidence that it has a whole lot of healing properties; here are just a few:
5 Health Benefits of Organic Turmeric
1 – Natural Antiseptic and Antibacterial
With a general increase in antibiotic resistance, scientists are studying natural compounds for their antibacterial properties. Studies have shown that curcumin, an active component in turmeric, has antibacterial properties. 1
2 – Cancer Prevention
According to the American Cancer Society, “Curcumin can kill cancer cells in laboratory dishes and also slows the growth of the surviving cells. Curcumin has been found to reduce development of several forms of cancer in lab animals and to shrink animal tumors. “2 Curcumin has been found to be beneficial in both prevention and treatment of certain cancers: lung, prostate, liver, breast, colon, stomach and melanoma.
3 – Prevents and Slows Alzheimer’s Progression
More than 50 studies on turmeric’s effects on Alzheimers show that extracts of turmeric contain a number of components that block the formation of beta-amyloid, the substance responsible for the plaques that slowly obstruct cerebral function.
4 – Arthritis Relief
A common treatment for arthritis sufferers are pharmaceutical COX-2 inhibitors. The COX-2 enzyme promotes the pain, swelling and inflammation that is present in arthritis. Turmeric contains six different COX-2 inhibitors as well as more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds. Studies of curcuming for arthritis have shown positive changes in arthritis symptoms.3
5 – Anti Depressant
Researchers have found that turmeric is as effective as Prozac for treating depression.4 Considering the side effects of pharmaceutical antidepressant medications, the use of turmeric is far more beneficial for the body.
How To Use Organic Turmeric
Commonly used in curry, turmeric is a staple in Indian cuisine but it can be incorporated into many other dishes to provide color, flavor, and health benefit.
- Use in eggless egg salad or tofu scramble for a golden yellow color reminiscent of egg yolk.
- Bake it into a cake! Sfuff is a middle eastern turmeric cake that is easy to make, festive and delicious. Find a recipe HERE.
- Try drinking turmeric tea. Just simmer 1 tsp of organic ground turmeric in 4 cups of water for about 10 minutes. Add honey or ginger for flavor and enjoy.
- Add a bit of organic turmeric to soups and stews – the flavor is mild enough that any richly flavored bean soup, stew, winter squash soup or cauliflower soup will benefit from the addition of turmeric.
If cooking with turmeric isn’t your thing but you still want the benefit, you can take organic turmeric in capsule form. Just 3 capsules a day will provide you with turmeric’s protective benefits. Now that you know the health benefits of organic turmeric and some ways to use it, how will you be adding organic turmeric to your diet? Let us know in the comments.
Eating healthy is defined many different ways by many people. Sometimes it can be a little confusing and sometimes, downright overwhelming. Seems like every few years the media is telling us, “eat a no fat diet”, “stay away from carbs”, “sprinkle this chemical on your food to make you feel full!” The list goes on and on and on. So is there really a right way to eat, is there a good diet? The answer is simply….. YES! Now to clarify what I mean by ‘diet’ let’s look at the two definitions of ‘diet’. The first definition of the word diet is the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats. The second definition (which most people think of when they hear the word ‘diet’) is a special course of food to which one restricts oneself to lose weight.
Today we are talking about the first definition: the kind of foods humans should be eating. Do you know what kinds of food you should be eating in order to be eating healthy? Well I will give it to you in very simple terms. We humans should be eating whole foods, a nutrient dense diet. What does that mean? Whole foods equal 1 ingredient foods. That means all your fruits vegetables, meats, nuts, seeds, herbs etc. If you eat a whole foods diet, you can guarantee that your body will be getting the nutrients it craves. Now, you may ask, what if I am a Vegan, Vegetarian or Paleo, etc.? Good question. No matter which lifestyle you lead, you should be following the same rule in order to be eating healthy: eat whole foods. Did you know that Oreo’s are a vegan food? Hmm… makes you wonder a little bit doesn’t it. Most of us know there is nothing healthy about an Oreo cookie. Just because someone is vegan or vegetarian does not mean they are eating healthy. That is why everyone will benefit from a whole foods diet. Limit or eliminate processed foods. Try a balance of 80-20 or if you can 90-10 (the bigger number being whole foods and the lower number being processed). That is a good goal for all who want to be eating healthy to work up to!
Tips to eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle:
1. Eat as many whole foods as you can, shoot for 80% of your meals being whole foods. The average person would benefit from a meal consisting of 40% Carbs (complex healthy carbs from vegetables and properly prepared grains) 30% protein and 30% fats. We are all different so that ratio might vary from person to person.
2. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store. That is where you will find your whole foods like your produce, proteins (meats, poultry, fish) and dairy.
3. When buying your proteins ALWAYS buy and look for words like:
- Uncured and nitrate free
- Free range or pastured raised (pastured are the best eggs)
- Wild caught fish
*This will help you get the best quality proteins which will be the most nutrient dense.
4. When it comes to your fruits and vegetables always do your best to buy organic or locally to help out and support the farmers around your area.
5. Don’t sweat it, if you have to buy conventional produce from time to time, just make sure you wash your produce really well to get the waxes and chemicals off. A good tip is to fill up your sink with cold water and add a cup of vinegar. Add your veggies and let them soak in the cold vinegar bath for 5-10 minutes. I do this will almost all my veggies (local, conventional and organic).
6. When buying nuts and seeds always look for the word “raw”. This tells you that they haven’t been heated or treated.
7. Be cautious of the word “Natural” especially if you see this on meats, eggs, poultry, pork and fish. I mean all of that is natural, but in the industry it means that the meat contains no artificial colors, it has been minimally processed and there should be no additional artificial ingredients. What this label is not telling you is how this animal was raised, what it ate or the conditions this animal lived in. I stay away from most everything that say’s “Natural” and doesn’t back it up.
8. Eat FAT! People these days are so scared of fat I could write a whole book on this subject alone. Our bodies scream for good fats, not only are they good for you, but having good fats in our diets is absolutely essential. Here is a very quick list of why fats are essential for our bodies:
- They are our key source of energy, which is a nice long steady energy burn, unlike sugar which is a quick source (which craves you to want more). Fat burns slow which helps us to have more energy for a longer period of time.
- Good fats are in every single cell in our bodies and they play a crucial role in our elimination of toxins and healthy fats are responsible for healthy liver function.
- Fats are essential for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K. Which means if we are taking and or eating foods with these vitamins they are absorbed into our body better if we are eating good quality fats.
- Fats are also wonderful at managing the inflammation in our bodies.
9. Which fats do I eat then?
- Fats to avoid at all costs are: Hydrogenated fats, partially hydrogenated fats, highly processed vegetable oils like : Canola, vegetable oils, margarines and those fake butters like Promise and Can’t believe it’s Not Butter. These fats are toxic and interfere with the roles healthy fats play within our bodies.
- Instead good fats to add to your diet are organic, cold pressed and unrefined. Which means the oils haven’t been heated to kill the nutrients. These include: Coconut oil, Olive oil, raw butter, Grass-fed butters, ghee or clarified butter, fats from pastured animals like lard and tallow, hazelnut, sesame, flaxseed oil, fish oil, hemp and sunflower oils are all good.
10. Limit your sugar! This is a huge topic and could be talked about alone. I’ll try to shorten it up a bit. Did you know in the year 1810 the average person consumed around 10 pounds of sugar a year. In the year 2005 the average person consumed an average of 199 pounds of sugar a year. Go ahead, read that last sentence again…. I was blown away too. That’s pretty sad isn’t it? And people wonder why there is so much sickness. Sugar is everywhere and it has many sneaky names too. Make sure you read your labels and watch out for all these words: Brown sugar, powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, white sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, corn sugar, date sugar, maple sugar, coconut sugar, turbinado sugar. Hidden Names for Sugar: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, disaccharides, molasses, succanat, polysaccharides, sucrose, fructose, invert sugar, dextrose, sucrose, glucose, lactose, sorbitol, mannitol, honey, malt, malt extract, maltose, maltodextrin, rice extract. If you read the label and one of these is listed in the 1st 3 ingredients then you can guarantee it will be a high sugar product.
11. Fake sugars to avoid:
- Aspartame aka Nutrasweet, Equal and this one is found in sodas, energy drinks, gum and many yogurts. Aspartame is one of the most studied artificial sweeteners, and has been accused of causing everything from weight gain to cancer.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup found in virtually everything from ice cream to spaghetti sauces. It is highly processed from corn which will mostly likely contain GMO’s. HFCS should be avoided like the plague.
- Sucralose aka Splenda found in fruit drinks, canned fruit, etc.
- Agave Nectar has more fructose than table sugar which, which means it’s less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar, but it is more likely to reduce your metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
There is so much to say about eating healthy, so much controversy, but in the end if you just stick to these couple things you can ensure you are doing right for your body. So to end just remember these few things: shop the perimeter of the store for your whole nutrient dense foods and read your labels.
Now that we are in the midst of the cold and flu season I thought I’d share some natural cold remedies to help you avoid getting ill. And if the flu or cold has already caught you, don’t fear, there are many natural ways to lessen the duration of your cold or flu and lessen those pesky symptoms. What you might find surprising is that you might have many of these natural cold remedies right in your own kitchen! No running to the store in the middle of the night to buy a bottle of cherry-flavored medication (which is full of chemicals and dyes).
I’m going to list several natural cold remedies. You pick what works best for you. Try out a few. I use all of these in my own home.
12 Natural Cold Remedies
- Elderberry Syrup. I wrote about this a couple months ago when the kids first started school. This is my favorite for prevention. We are almost 2 months in to the school year and my kids have not had a single sniffle or cough!
- Vitamin D is a wonderful too for prevention too. Boosting vitamin D levels can help prevent illness in the first place, and taking several thousand IU a day while sick can help speed up recovery. I’m in Washington State where we don’t see too much sunshine, so vitamin D is a must over here.
- Rest. I know this can be a hard one for busy adults, but most of our bodies healing comes while we are a rest and when we are sleeping so make sure at the first signs of illness, to start resting. Get the kids into bed a 1/2 hour earlier.
- Hydrate! I can’t stress this enough. Drink lots of fluid. Water is the best. Water helps remove waste and flush toxins out of our body and this is especially important when we are sick. Not only does water help regulate our body temperate which is helpful when we have a fever, water actually empowers the body’s natural healing process. So put down the sodas and juice and drink some water!
- Stay away from Junk. This means limit or remove all processed food from your diet while sick, which includes anything in a box, white breads, pastas, sugars and grains. These all slow down our body’s healing process which will keep us sick for longer. Take out these foods and stick with whole foods.
- Vitamin C is probably the most important of all the antioxidant nutrients. When you feel a cold coming on a higher dose than usual can help in your body’s response to fight infection. Also it is known to have antiviral and anticancer effects.
- Oil of Oregano is an excellent early defense mechanism when you feel a cold or sore throat coming on. Simply take 3 drops of the oil once per day (you can mix it into a glass of orange juice) and you should notice results within a few hours. Repeat this once per day for up to 5 days until the symptoms are gone. This one works like a charm for me, but it can be hard to get the kids to do this one.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. Cold viruses tend to put our bodies into an overly acidic state, which makes it that much more difficult for our immunity to fight those sickies. But taking apple cider vinegar, a powerful alkalizing food, will help not only kill a cold but also lessen or completely take away its miserable symptoms. Mixing a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with warm water, honey, and lemon, and drinking the concoction a few times a day will help speed up recovery. My kids take this very well. I add in some Vanilla Stevia and it tastes like apple pie.
- Neti-pot. This is one of my favorite. If you have a sinus infection or stuffed up nose this really helps clear that junk out. Mix 8oz. of spring water or distilled water (room temperate is best) with 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt. Poor in your neti-pot and use. Also if you use this daily, I like to use it first thing in the morning, it will help prevent sinus infections from starting.
- Garlic. A powerhouse natural antibiotic, anti fungal, and antibacterial, garlic can tackle almost any illness. For the most potent effect, finely mince 1-2 cloves and mix with a tablespoon or two of raw honey and take it that way. If you chew it, that action will help break down the enzymes in the garlic which will be more readily available. Note: Pregnant women should not take more than 1 clove of garlic medicinally per day. * I successfully healed my strep-throat last year using this method. I used the above method but doubled the recipes and added cayenne pepper and took 1/2 tsp every 1/2 hour (except while sleeping) for 2 days, then 3 x a day until it symptoms disappeared. My Strep throat was gone in 5 days!
- Eucalyptus oil is one of my favorite natural cold remedies. It is antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and it is a natural expectorant. When my kids show signs of coughs I put a few drops right onto their feet and rub it in. It works like a charm every time. Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil such as olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil etc.
- Echinacea. Supplementing with echinacea herb not only reduces your chances of developing a cold by more than 50 percent, but can also shorten the duration of cold symptoms by several days. Because it stimulates the immune system and promotes the activation of T-cells, echinacea is an excellent cold remedy, especially when combined with other natural cold remedies I listed.
I hope these natural cold remedies come in handy next time you are facing a cold or flu virus. Remember try different ones to see which works for you. What are your go-to natural cold remedies?
Each month shopOrganic offers a different selection of sale items so that you can save a little money on the path of making better choices. These specials also give you an opportunity to try some new products that you might have overlooked before. We’ve highlighted some of these great products below, including some products that are great for the upcoming holiday season. Be sure to head up to shopOrganic.com’s Sale section to see all of the November specials at shopOrganic.
Select products 10% Off
Artisana’s organic nut butters are carefully created in small batches to ensure the highest quality. Their products are always raw, always organic, and always delicious. Their walnut and pecan butters include the skins of the nuts to provide the most nutritional benefit. Cashew butter is blended in to increase the natural sweetness and creaminess. Click HERE to try this November special now.
Aunt Patty’s Sweetners
Select varieties 10% Off
We all know that refined sugars aren’t great for our health. Aunt Patty’s makes a line of healthy sweeteners from whole food sources. From the date sugar to honey crystals to coconut sugar and more – click HERE to try them now.
Cleaning Products 10% Off
With funky names like Simply Floored and Einshine, Better Life makes cleaning fun, safe and effective. Their products are environmentally friendly, smell great and work well. Click HERE to try this November special now.
Better Than Bouillon
All products 10% Off
Just in time for the holiday season we’ve got Better Than Bouillon on sale. Great for soups, stews, gravies and other holiday recipes. Add some concentrated flavor to your favorite dishes. Click HERE to try them now.
Choice Organic Tea
All varieties 10% Off
These organic and fair trade teas will warm you up on a chilly Fall day. Choice Organics commitment to fair trade practices will make you feel as warm inside as their tea will. Click HERE to try this November special today.
Canned Organic Vegetable Puree 10% Off
With the holidays just around the corner, its a great time to stock up on canned pumpkin, sweet potato and butternut squash. Great in casseroles, soups, stews and desserts. Click HERE to try them all.
Organic Baking Extracts 10% Off
It’s baking season, the perfect time to stock up on your favorite baking extracts. Flavorganics extracts bring an extra punch of flavor to your baked goods. Click HERE to try them all.
Select Body Lotions 10% Off
Giovanni Cosmetics is a family owned company committed to creating only the purest formulations. Packaged in aesthetically beautiful bottles, their lotions come in scents to please just about everyone with quality you can feel on your skin. Click HERE to check out this November special.
Organic Honey 10% Off
These honeys are produced by a coop of organic farms in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains and throughout Northern and Central India. With really unique flavors, these honeys are truly organic; the bees do not come into contact with any chemicals or pesticides. Click HERE to check out this November special.
All Flavors 10% Off
A great on the go snack, Mamma Chia pouches are full of nutrition. Chia is high in protein, Omega 3′s, and fiber. Blended with only pure fruit and vegetable purees with no added sugars, these make a great snack for kids and adults alike. Click HERE to try them now.
Chocolate Covered Fruits and Nuts 10% Off
A decadent treat, Next Organics takes delicious nuts and fruits and coats them in luscious dark chocolate for a little bit of heaven in every bite. Try these in your candy dish at the office and watch everyone gather around. Click HERE to try this November special now.
Organic Savory Teas 10% Off
At first glance, you may wonder what Numi was thinking creating a line of savory tea? But one sip and you’ll know – these rich flavors offer a satisfying yet practically calorie free afternoon snack. Drink these like broth and fool your stomach into thinking you’ve had a meal! Click HERE to try them now.
Full size bars and minis 10% Off
Made in small batches with great care, OCHO Candy brings back the fun you remember about candy as a kid. In flavors that will leave your taste buds tantalized, try them in full size bars or mini sizes. Click HERE to try them now.
Organic Tea Concentrates 10% Off
The original chai concentrate, Oregon Chai brings the flavors of the Himalayas to our cups. In regular, decaf and a slightly sweet version, warm up on a cold night with Oregon Chai. Click HERE to try them now.
Road’s End Organics
Gluten Free Gravy Mixes 10% Off
If you’re avoiding gluten, it doesn’t mean you have to give up gravy this holiday season. Try Road’s End Organics gluten free gravy mixes for the flavors you love at your holiday meals. Click HERE to try them now.
Gluten Free Baking Mixes 10% Off
Delicious gluten free baked goods are a thing of the past. Wholesome Chow got it right with their baking mixes, offering great flavor and texture in a home baked gluten free mix. Click HERE to try them now.
Typically associated with holiday foods like egg nog and pumpkin pie, organic nutmeg is also great in savory dishes like stuffing, soup and stir fry. The health benefits of nutmeg may surprise you; from dental health to skin care, to aphrodisiac qualities and more.
7 Health Benefits of Nutmeg
1 – Sleep Aid
You’ve heard of having a warm glass of milk before bed in order to get a good night’s sleep? Try adding a pinch of ground nutmeg for a more powerful punch. It also helps to promote the production of serotonin.
2 – Acne Treatment
If you suffer from acne or have acne scars, try mixing ground nutmeg with water or honey into a paste. Apply it to the skin like a mask or use like a scrub and your skin will benefit. Nutmeg has ant-inflammatory components that will help reduce the redness and puffiness associated with pimples. It will help remove blackheads, make scars less noticeable and make your skin smoother.
3 – Digestive Aid
Since ancient times, nutmeg has been used as a medicinal aid for digestive problems like diarrhea, constipation, bloating and excess gas. Nutmeg oil helps to remove the excess gas from your gut, providing relief. If you have regular digestive issues, try sprinkling nutmeg on oatmeal, in eggs, or in a fruit smoothie for breakfast every day.
4 – Dental Health
Along with clove and cinnamon, nutmeg is great for dental health. It has antibacterial properties that help to protect teeth and gums and the oil in nutmeg is helpful in relieving a tooth ache. It will also freshen your breath and keep your mouth clean.
5 – Immune Booster
Nutmeg contains trace minerals that are beneficial for immune system health. It’s no wonder that nutmeg is commonly used in foods that are popular during cold and flu season. High in potassium, calcium, iron and manganese, it’s a great idea to sprinkle nutmeg on your foods during the winter months.
6 – Brain Health
Ancient Greeks and Romans used nutmeg as a brain tonic, as it can stimulate the brain, eliminating fatigue and stress. Nutmeg contains a compound called myristicin which has been shown to protect the brain against degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. It is also helpful if you’re suffering from anxiety or depression and can be effective to improve concentration and focus.
7 – Sex Drive
Yes, one of the many health benefits of nutmeg is its aphrodisiac effects. Researchers have found that at low dosages it is capable of increasing sexual activity, increasing both libido and potency in men. Before you go dowsing yourself in nutmeg, you should be aware that at higher doses, nutmeg does have adverse effects and can cause heart palpitations and nausea.
How To Use Nutmeg
Nutmeg can be used for both sweet and savory dishes. In desserts, it adds warm, nutty, holiday-spice flavor to foods like gingerbread and pumpkin pie. It also pairs nicely with meats for a subtly sweet component, and is great paired with vegetables like cauliflower and brussel sprouts. Here are a few ways to get the health benefits of nutmeg into your diet.
Eggnog is the obvious choice, but even if you don’t like eggnog, you can add nutmeg to hot chocolate, or hot tea. Try adding nutmeg to your fruit smoothies for a warming effect. Add it to hot or cold apple cider.
Using nutmeg in savory dishes and on proteins can add contrast to spicy and salty flavors. A little goes a long way so use a light touch but try nutmeg on roasted chicken, pot pies, omelettes, braised beef, meatballs and more.
Aside from pumpkin pie or apple pie, you can sprinkle a little nutmeg into vanilla pudding, try it on ice cream, pound cake, and cookies. Try adding nutmeg to any dish that you’d normally use cinnamon for a slightly different flavor.
A dash of nutmeg in tomato soup adds an unexpected depth of flavor do a simple soup. Try nutmeg in a blended cauliflower puree or winter squash soup.
Try sprinkling a bit of nutmeg on vegetables like sweet potatoes, red potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, winter squashes, cabbage, cauliflower and spinach.
Now that you know the health benefits of nutmeg and some ways to use it, how will you be using nutmeg this season? Let us know in the comments.
Cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers? Which am I going to use on my baby? If you are a mom, most importantly a new momma I am sure you have pondered this question once or twice before. I know I did. On average your baby will probably spend around 25,000 hours in a diaper and need about 6,000 diaper changes in their first years of life. Crazy thought huh?!
Your decision to use disposable or cloth diapers will not only have a great impact on your baby’s comfort and health; it can also impact the environment, and your pocket as well. Today we’re going to look at the pros and cons of both types of diapers! Hopefully after you read this you will get a better idea of how you want to diaper your sweet baby!
- Easy to use
- Easy to dispose
- In a baby’s lifetime it will cost anywhere from $2000-2500 if using disposable diapers and if you are using organic eco-friendly disposables it is going to cost you more around $3,000
- They are horrible for our environment it is estimated that around 5 million tons of untreated waste is deposited into landfills via disposables every year.
- Harder to potty-train; toddlers can’t feel wetness as much with disposables, so it’s harder for them to potty-train.
- More diaper-rash; according to one study, 78% of babies in disposable diapers get diaper-rash, compared to only 7% of cloth diapered babies.
- A study published in the Archives of Environmental Health in 1999, found that disposable diapers do release chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and dipentene. VOCs are linked to toxic health effects over time and with a high level of exposure, including cancer and brain damage.
- It’s cheaper; cloth diapers can be expensive for the initial set-up ($250-$700), but in the long run they work out a lot cheaper than disposables, depending on what system you use.
- Reusable and eco-friendly. Make sure you are using natural detergents like Charlie’s Soap or Allen’s Naturally to get these diapers clean, and if they’re really stinky, try Stink Out, a laundry additive especially for cloth diapers.
- Less diaper-rash; cloth diapered babies tend to have less diaper-rash, because natural cotton fibers breathe more easily.
- Can be used for future children; works out even cheaper because you can use for any more children you have.
- Cloth diapered children tend to potty-train earlier, because the cloth tends to hold moisture closer to baby’s skin.
- No more of the scary pins your mom had to deal with. Cloth diapers now come with Velcro or snap closures, shapes fitted to baby, waterproof bands around the waist and legs, and removable linings, making the cloth change just as quick and easy as the disposable.
- Cloth diapers are CUTE… have you seen all the different patterns, colors and styles they come in?!
- Not as convenient as disposables.
- Have to carry your dirty diapers around with you.
- Not as absorbent as disposables causing you to change your baby more often.
Now that you have an idea of the pros and cons of both types of diapers which one are you going to choose? I truly believe that if you want to truly go organic, cloth diapers is the only way to go. Using cloth diapers ensures that you are not only protecting our planet but your precious baby more importantly. If you still decide to use disposable diapers I highly recommend finding organic, disposable diapers and staying away from conventional, diapers (Pampers, Huggies etc). As I sit here writing this blog post I can tell you that like the breastfeeding vs. organic baby formula debate, I have experience with each side of the debate when it comes to my own children. I currently have a 23 month old and I started out using cloth diapers with her then switching to cheap disposable diapers when my life got hectic (I also gave away all my cloth diapers – big mistake!). Well, you know what I just did while writing this post? I ordered more cloth diapers! Hopefully these pros and cons inspire you as well!
Some Eco-Friendly disposable diapers:
- Naty Natural Babycare
- Nurtured by Nature
- Seventh Generation Free and Clear Baby Diapers
- Earth’s Best Tender Care Chlorine Free Diapers
Have you cloth diapered your children? If so do you have any tips or tricks or gentle advice for new mothers just starting out? We would love to hear your comments!
Also check out how easily and quickly you can make your own eco-friendly, organic baby wipes.
Already in 2013, nearly half of all U.S. states have introduced bills requiring GMO labeling or prohibiting genetically engineered foods. With the growing attention on GMO’s, the biotech industry is spending a lot of time and money trying to convince the public that their GMO myths are actually true. If you listen to supporters of GMO’s you’ll hear the promises that many biotech companies have made.
Top GMO Myths from Biotech Companies
- GMO’s will solve world hunger
- GMO’s will improve crop yields
- GMO’s deter pests and weeds, reducing pesticide and herbicide use
- GMO’s are better suited to extreme weather conditions
Digging deeper into the truth of those claims, you’ll find something very different. Let’s take a closer look at the basic facts about GMO’s and then we’ll bust some GMO myths.
First, what is a GMO?
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is a plant or animal whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering (GE) techniques. This technology combines DNA from different species, creating combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
Why are GMO’s used?
Nearly all commercial GMO’s are designed to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Some GMO’s are designed for quicker growth (GE Salmon), increased levels of specific nutrients (Golden Rice), or to resist disease (Papaya). Whether these GMO foods actually live up to their designed purpose is something we’ll get to in the myth busting section.
What foods are GMO?
The most common GMO foods are corn, soy, cotton, canola, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, alfalfa, and squash (zucchini and yellow). Many ingredients in processed foods are made from corn or soy so when you’re reading labels on processed foods, look for these ingredients: Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Natural and Artificial Flavorings, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrin, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), and Xanthan Gum. If you’re not buying organic and you see these ingredients, they are likely GMO.
To get an insider’s look at which GMO crops are approved for use and what traits they have been modified for, click here.
Are GMOs safe?
The verdict is unclear. In the U.S., GMO’s have been approved based on studies performed by the very same companies that create GMO’s and profit from them. Scientists have identified a number of ways in which GMO’s could potentially adversely impact both human health and the environment. These include new allergens in the food supply, antibiotic resistance, production of new toxins, gene transfer due to pollen drift, creation of new viruses and more. More detailed information can be found at the Union of Concerned Scientists website at www.ucsusa.org. Most developed nations including all of the countries in the European Union, Australia, and Japan have either significant restrictions or outright bans on GMO’s.
GMO Myths Busted
GMO Myth: GMO’s will solve world hunger
Truth: According to John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America wrote a great piece addressing this issue. Biotech holds up Golden Rice as the savior for malnourished. Nearly a million children die every year because they are weakened by Vitamin A deficiencies and an additional 350,000 go blind. Golden rice was developed and is being promoted as the answer to this problem but if you look more closely, you’ll see the flaws in this GMO crop. “For one thing, we’ve learned that golden rice will not grow in the kinds of soil that it must to be of value to the world’s hungry. To grow properly, it requires heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides — expensive inputs unaffordable to the very people that the variety is supposed to help. And we’ve also learned that golden rice requires large amounts of water — water that might not be available in precisely those areas where Vitamin A deficiency is a problem, and where farmers cannot afford costly irrigation projects. And one more thing — it turns out that golden rice doesn’t work, even in theory. Malnourished people are not able to absorb Vitamin A in this form. And even if they could, they’d have to eat an awful lot of the stuff. An 11-year-old boy would have to eat 27 bowls of golden rice a day in order to satisfy his minimum requirement for the vitamin.” Read the full article HERE.
GMO Myth: GMO’s will improve crop yields
Truth: A peer-reviewed study published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability examined those claims and found that conventional plant breeding, not genetic engineering, is responsible for yield increases in major U.S. crops. The definitive study to date on GM crops and yield is Failure to Yield, by Dr Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists and former biotech adviser to the US Environmental Protection Agency. It shows quite clearly that GMO does not produce increased yields and in many cases the yields are reduced over time.
GMO Myth: GMO’s deter pests and weeds, reducing pesticide and herbicide use
Truth: Many GMO crops have pesticides and herbicide resistance built in to the plant itself. The most well known is Bt corn, which has the Bt bacteria inserted into the genome of the plant. It causes insects eating the plant to die by exploding their stomachs. While this application was successful at first, pests have developed resistance to Bt corn and farmers are turning to more and more pesticide use to keep up with the adapting insects. For more information about pesticide use in GMO Crops, click HERE.
In herbicide tolerant crops like ‘Roundup Ready’ soy, farmers have increased herbicide use over time to keep up with ‘superweeds’. The superweeds have become so much of a problem for farmers that Monsanto has proposed 2,4-D resistant plants. An ingredient in Agent Orange, 2,4-D is a pretty nasty chemical. It has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, kidney and liver problems, reproductive effects, and shows endocrine disrupting potential. See Rodale Institite’s article about 2,4-D.
GMO Myth: GMO’s are better suited to extreme weather conditions
Truth: Long-term experiments at the Rodale Institute, an organic research farm in Pennsylvania, found that, during normal weather, organic and conventional farming produce about the same amount of food. But in drought conditions, organic wins out, producing 30 percent more in years of drought. That’s because organic soil is alive with beneficial bacteria, and the soil acts like a sponge to hold water in reserve during drought. The healthy soil also helps prevent flooding. The real key to growing crops in a changing climate is seed diversity. Navdanya, an organization founded by Dr. Vandana Shiva, has a mission “To protect nature and people’s rights to knowledge, biodiversity, water and food”. They have a program that focuses on saving seed that is adaptable to changing climates. Read more HERE.
Now that I know some of the GMO myths and truths, how do I avoid GMO’s?
Since the US does not require labeling of GMO’s there are a few ways to reduce your consumption of GMO’s.
1 – Buy Organic
Certified organic products are not allowed to contain any GMO’s. Therefore, when you purchase products labeled “100% organic”, “organic”, or “made with organic ingredients”, all ingredients in these products are not allowed to be produced from GMO’s. For example, products labeled as “made with organic ingredients” only require 70% of the ingredients to be organic, but 100% of the ingredients must be non-GMO. If you have a hard time finding organic food locally, you can shop for organic food online and have it delivered to you.
2 – Look for Non-GMO on the label
In the absence of mandatory labeling, many companies voluntarily label their products as non-GMO. In addition, the Non-GMO Project offers verification and a Non-GMO Project Verified logo on a product means that the product meets their standards for GMO avoidance.
3 – Avoid at-risk ingredients
Most GMO’s in processed foods come from four crops: corn, soybeans, canola and cottonseed. If you’re consuming conventional processed foods and you find on the label these ingredients, they are likely GMO: corn flour, corn meal, corn starch, corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, glucose, modified food starch, soy flour, soy lecithin, soy protein isolate, soy isoflavone, vegetable oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil.
What are some GMO myths you’ve heard?
In this five part series for Non-GMO Month, we’ll take a look at common food items that likely contain GMO’s and we’ll be offering non-GMO alternatives. Avoiding GMO’s is quite easy once you know what to look for so we’ll be sharing with you some tips on how to keep your diet GMO free.
With Halloween right around the corner, we’ve all got candy on the brain. There are so many memories associated with candy that we can hold on to our favorites and enjoy them without thinking about the health effects. Even if you don’t indulge in candy often, its important to consider choices that are better for you and better for our world. Making sure you’re avoiding GMO’s in your candy is a good way to make sure the candy you are choosing is just a little healthier. Yes, its probably still full of sugar and fat but why not make the best choice you can. If you’re concerned about the Halloween candy that’s about to show up everywhere you go, you have good reason to be. But its easy to make sure you’re avoiding GMO’s in your candy if you follow these tips below:
4 Tips for Avoiding GMO’s in Candy
1 – The easiest way to make sure you are avoiding GMO’s is to buy organic. This goes for candy as well as any foods that you’re buying. Any product that has the USDA Organic logo on it is by definition non-GMO.
2 – Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified label on packages. Even if a product isn’t certified organic, it can be non-gmo. To be certain, look for this third party verification.
3 – When you’re buying candy, check the ingredients. Most supermarket candies contain corn, soy and canola – ingredients that are very likely to be genetically modified. Some ingredients will be obvious, like high fructose corn syrup, canola oil, cottonseed oil or soy lecithin. Some ingredients are sneaky in that they don’t list what their made from. These sneaky ingredients can be GMO if the product isn’t organic: amino acids, aspartame, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, vitamin c, citric acid, sodium citrate, sucrose, and xanthan gum. Its a pretty sure bet that conventional supermarket candies contain GMO’s so you may want to read the labels just to see, but I would avoid them at all cost and choose an organic alternative instead.
4 – Ditch the candy! For a sweet treat, try dried fruits instead. They may wind up in the ‘trade’ pile on Halloween, but giving out mini boxes of raisins is a great way to be involved in the holiday without contributing to the ill health of children.
Avoiding GMO ingredients is easy when you know you have organic alternatives. The chart above gives you great suggestions for replacements. There’s an organic or non-gmo version of lots of different kinds of candies, you just have to know what to look for!
Are there any kinds of candy you just love but don’t know how to find a non-gmo version of? Let us know and we’ll direct you to it if we can!
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but how some of us celebrate it has changed over the past few years, especially those of us who are trying to keep our kids eating healthy, organic foods. Making sure your kids are eating healthy doesn’t mean making them stay home on Halloween, but you also don’t have to let them binge eat GMO-packed products each Halloween either. Whether it’s organic Halloween candy or ‘cash for candy’ programs, there are several different ways you can keep your kids eating healthy this Halloween. Here are some Tricks and Treats for keeping your kids healthy this Halloween season.
Tricks: Healthy & Fun Halloween Activities for Kids
- Create a Haunted House. The kids can do this with materials you have around the house, and this can keep them busy for hours. The best part is the kids will have fun putting the haunted house together as well as taking turns going through it and scaring each other.
- Halloween Cookie and Cupcake Decorating Contest. Make a batch of your favorite organic cookies or cupcakes and let the kids use organic frosting to decorate the treat as something scary.
- Halloween Pumpkin Massacre. What do you do with pumpkins the day after Halloween? Before throwing them in the compost let the kids make a bit of a mess destroying them. It’s physical, it’s inexpensive, and it’s fun!
Treats: Organic Halloween Candy
- Yummy Earth organic Halloween candy has a wide variety of flavors of lollipops and hard candies. They come in a variety of flavors in 3 oz. bags or in larger assorted bags and so they’re perfect for opening and handing out handfuls on Halloween.
- Surf Sweets organic Halloween candy includes sour candy worms and gummy bears. These are great candies for trading with your kids. “I’ll give you a handful of sour gummy worms for each of those butterfingers you got last night…”
- Ocho organic Halloween candy has several different types of organic chocolate bars. And who doesn’t love organic chocolate? From dark chocolate peppermint to mini milk chocolate caramel candy bars, these are the perfect treats for chocolate lovers.
What are some of your favorite healthy activities for kids during Halloween? Do you have a favorite organic Halloween candy? Let us know in the comments!
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You may already be familiar with the dried cranberries that go by the name ‘Craisins’. They’re a delicious snack and they’re great for on-the-go, but I want to let you know why it is important to choose organic dried cranberries instead. Most commercial dried fruit uses additives and preservatives that maintain the color and the softness of the fruit. Not only are these additives not necessary, they may be harmful to your health. Sulfur dioxide, the most common additive in conventional dried fruits, may cause health problems if you have asthma, sulfite sensitivity or sulfite allergy.
Also, when you choose organic dried cranberries, you’re avoiding both pesticides and potentially GMO sweeteners that are often used on conventional cranberries. Considering this is a great snack for kids and their smaller bodies are more sensitive to pesticides, why buy anything but organic?
Health Benefits of Organic Dried Cranberries
Nutrients like vitamin C and fiber play a very important role in cranberry’s health benefits but its really the phytonutrients in cranberries that are so beneficial. Containing phenolic acids, proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, and flavonoids, cranberries have been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits, help control urinary tract infections, support the immune and cardiovascular systems, benefit the digestive system and are cancer preventative. All of that in a tiny red berry makes you wonder how you can start to incorporate more of them in your diet on a regular basis.
Five Ways to Use Organic Dried Cranberries
Organic dried cranberries add a tart burst of flavor to your favorite dessert recipes. Try substituting some or all of the raisins in your dessert recipes for a change of pace. Recipes like oatmeal raisin cookies, apple pie, biscotti and rice pudding are perfect for substituting dried cranberries for raisins. Use a 1 for 1 replacement. Here’s an easy recipe for a cranberry biscotti that is great for the holiday season:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups cane sugar
1 1/2 cups toasted pecan halves
1 cup dried organic cranberries
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roughly chop the pecans and set aside. Combine baking powder, flour, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, beat eggs, yolks, and vanilla and add to dry ingredients. Mix until a sticky dough is formed. Add in the pecans, cranberries, and lemon zest. Turn dough out onto well-floured surface. Sprinkle with flour and knead slightly. Shape into 9-by-3 1/2-inch logs. Transfer to baking sheet and bake until brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool enough to handle. Lower oven to 275 degrees. On cutting board, cut logs on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Return pieces cut side down to baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 20 minutes. Turn over and bake another 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack and store in airtight container.
Making homemade granola is really simple, much less expensive than store bought, and you can customize the ingredients. Here’s a simple recipe for organic granola using dried cranberries that is perfect for the holiday season:
4 cups regular rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped raw walnuts
1 cup organic dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix the oats, coconut, walnuts, salt, and cinnamon and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Pour half of the liquid mixture over the oats mixture, in the large bowl. Use your hands to combine them until well mixed then pour in the rest of the liquid and mix again, making sure all of the oats are coated. Pour the mixture onto the baking sheets and spread it out evenly or in small clumps if you like granola the sticks together. Bake for 10 minutes then stir and bake for another 10 minutes. Stir again and return to the oven for another 5 minutes or until toasted brown. Stir in the dried cranberries and let the granola cool completely before storing in an air tight container.
I eat a lot of salads in my house so I’m always looking for ways to jazz them up with something different. Adding nuts or seeds along with a dried fruit makes the salad come to life. One of my favorite combinations is pecans and cranberries. Here’s a recipe for a spinach salad using dried organic cranberries:
6 cups organic mesclun salad mix
1/2 cup organic pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons organic white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons organic olive oil
2 teaspoons organic dijon mustard
Salt and ground black pepper
1/3 cup organic dried cranberries
1/3 cup organic walnut pieces
In a bowl, combine the pomegranate juice, vinegar, olive oil, and mustard and whisk to combine. Place mesclun mix in a large bowl and pour the dressing on top. Toss to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with cranberries and walnuts and serve.
Breads and Muffins
Baked goods get a tart lift when you add organic dried cranberries. From holiday breads to breakfast muffins, adding cranberries also gives you a boost of antioxidants. Here’s a recipe for an organic cranberry bread – serve it warm right out of the oven or room temperature.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
zest of one orange
1/3 c fresh squeezed orange juice (from the zested orange)
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup sunflower or safflower oil
½ cup chopped pecans
1 cup organic dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan; set aside. In a large bowl stir together the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, cranberries and chopped nuts. In small bowl beat eggs with a fork and stir in milk, orange zest and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened; the batter should be lumpy. Add the orange juice and stir to combine. Pour into loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool on wire rack. Store in an airtight container.
Adding organic dried cranberries to snacks like trail mix, snack bars or popcorn balls is a great way to get healthy antioxidants into your diet. Here’s a recipe for popcorn balls that are really fun to make with kids for holiday gifts.
8 cups popped plain popcorn
1 cup organic dried cranberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons butter
Place popcorn and dried cranberries in a large mixing bowl; set aside. Combine the brown sugar and maple syrup in a small pan and add butter. Cook over medium heat, until butter melts and mixure comes to a boil, stirring frequently until the mixture thickens slightly. Pour over popcorn mixture, stirring until coated. Dip hands in cold water. Shape popcorn mixture into 2-inch balls, pressing firmly to hold shape. Place on waxed paper and cool completely. Let stand overnight to harden. Wrap in decorative plastic wrap. Makes 12 balls.
What are your favorite ways to use organic dried cranberries? Let us know in the comments!