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12 Natural Cold Remedies & Tips for Flu Season

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 lessennatural-cold-remedies-for-flu-season 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

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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!
  11. 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.
  12. 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?

November Specials at shopOrganic

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.

November Specials at shopOrganicNovember Specials at shopOrganic

Artisana
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.

Better Life
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.

Farmer’s Market
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.

Flavorganics
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.

Giovanni
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.

Heavenly Organics
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.

Mamma Chia
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.

Next Organics
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.

Numi Tea
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.

OCHO Candy
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.

Oregon Chai
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.

Wholesome Chow
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.

Take advantage of these great sale items and more throughout November at shopOrganic.

Avoiding GMO’s Part V: Are There GMO’s in Your Convenience Foods?

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.

Avoiding GMO's

 

Most of us fall back on convenience foods once in a while to feed ourselves and our families when we’re just too busy to make a home cooked meal.  In a quest to make sure we’re feeding our families wholesome, nutritious foods, you’ll want to make sure you’re avoiding GMO’s in these processed convenience foods. Make sure you’re feeding yourself and your family non-gmo meals by using the guidelines below.  Avoiding GMO’s is easy once you know the secrets.

4 Tips for Avoiding GMO’s in Convenience Foods

1 – The easiest way to make sure you are avoiding GMO’s is to buy organic.  This goes for convenience foods and 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 packaged breakfast foods, avoid risky ingredients.  Most supermarket convenience foods contain corn, soy and canola – ingredients that are very likely to be genetically modified.  Some ingredients will be obvious, like corn flour, corn meal, corn starch, corn syrup, soy flour, soy lecithin, soy protein isolate, soy isoflavone, canola oil, cottonseed oil.  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, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, maltodextrin, molasses, sucrose, textured vegetable protein (tvp), xanthan gum, vitamins, and yeast.  Its a pretty sure bet that conventional supermarket convenience foods contain GMO’s so you may want to read the labels just to see, but I would avoid them at all cost.

4 – Re-define ‘convenience’.  I know, its so easy to tear open a frozen dinner, throw it in the microwave and call it a meal, but in the long run your health and your wallet will be better served by preparing some foods ahead of time so that when you really need something quick and convenient you can pull fresh alternatives out of your freezer.  It’s a great idea to cook in bulk – make a huge batch of organic rice then freeze individual or family sized portions.  Do the same with cooked beans, cooked veggies and fruits.  You’ll be easily avoiding GMO’s by preparing your own food at home with simple one-ingredient foods.  Then, on one of those nights when you just don’t have the time to cook from scratch, you can just re-heat a meal you’ve already prepared and viola! GMO-free dinner!

Avoiding GMO ingredients is easy when you know you have organic alternatives.  The chart above gives you great suggestions for replacements.  For just about any convenience food you can think of, there’s an organic or non-gmo version, you just have to know what to look for!

Are there any convenience foods 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!

Organic Granola Recipes: Maple Vanilla &Chocolate Chip

Granola always brings back sweet memories for me.  I remember when I was a kid my dad would come home from work with one of those old tins, (you know the ones that had Christmas scenes on them, and were once full of some sort of Scandinavian cookies) and when he would shake it, we knew exactly what it was!   Not cookies, but my grandma’s granola: simple, sweet and crunchy, the perfect granola!  Now that I’m grown and have a gluten sensitive daughter we have steered clear of granola and my kids’ favorite, granola bars. Steering clear of this isn’t only due to gluten intolerance, but also because often traditional, store-bought granola can be overly sweetened, processed and if you buy it at a conventional grocery store it will most likely contain GMO’s.  We don’t want that.  It’s always best to make your own or buy an organic granola brand which assures you that it is GMO free!

After trying out a few grain free recipes I finally came up with a version of my own organic granola recipe that is kid and husband approved!  I came up with a frozen organic granola bar which is pretty darn tasty too.  I hope you give them a try! 

Maple Vanilla Grain Free Organic Granola

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 170 (if your oven goes to 160 that would be preferable)

maple-vanilla-organic-granola-recipe-step1

Toss  nuts, sunflower seeds, and dried fruit in a blender or food processor (or chop if you have neither), and process blend briefly, until nuts, seeds and dried fruit are broken up –you want different sizes of the pieces of nuts, seeds and dried fruit, some whole, some broken, some ground. You know, what makes granola, well granola!

maple-vanilla-organic-granola-recipe-step2

Pour this mixture into a large bowl and stir in chia seeds, flax meal, coconut, and cinnamon.

maple-vanilla-organic-granola-recipe-step3

In a small sauce pan, melt coconut oil and butter then whisk in honey, vanilla and sunflower/almond butter until smooth.

maple-vanilla-organic-granola-recipe-step4

Pour yummy liquid mixture into dry, and stir with a wooden spoon until liquid mixture is evenly coated.

maple-vanilla-organic-granola-recipe-step5

Spread maple vanilla organic granola out on a parchment lined baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring halfway through. After 30 minutes, it should be golden brown. Stir again, turn oven off, and let sit in the oven for 20 more minutes. Remove from oven and let it sit out and cool—this is when it will harden and get it’s crunchy texture.

maple-vanilla-organic-granola-recipe-step6

When it’s cooled completely cool, break it up with your hands and store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Grain Free Chocolate Chip Organic Granola Bars:

My kids and husband love these snacks!  So quick and easy, and no baking required!

All you do is follow the above recipe, but when you get to step 5 let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes then add in the chocolate chips or chunks.

chocolate-chip-organic-granola-recipe-step1

Then instead of spreading onto a baking sheet, I use an 8”x 8” baking dish lined with parchment paper and pressed organic granola mixture into pan.  Stick it in the freezer for 2-3 hours and it’s done!

chocolate-chip-organic-granola-recipe-step2

Take them out, cut them up and keep in the freezer for a quick grab and go snack that your children will love!

Do you make your own organic granola?  Share your favorites in the comments!

Nutmeg: 7 Health Benefits & Creative Ways To Use It

health benefits of nutmeg

Photo credit: David.Monniaux

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.

Beverages

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.

Proteins

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.

Desserts

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.

Soups

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.

Vegetables

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.

Avoiding GMO’s Part IV: Are There GMO’s in Your Holiday Foods?

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.

 

Avoiding GMO's

When it comes to holiday cooking, most of us lean on packaged foods at least a little bit to ease the burden.  We want to make our holiday meals memorable, delicious and healthy. One way to make sure they are healthy is by avoiding GMO’s.  Make sure you’re feeding yourself and your family non-gmo meals by using the guidelines below.  Avoiding GMO’s is easy once you know the secrets.

5 Tips for Avoiding GMO’s in Holiday Foods

1 – The easiest way to make sure you are avoiding GMO’s is to buy organic.  This goes for holiday foods and 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 packaged holiday foods like stuffing, canned pumpkin pie mix, boxed dessert mixes and gravies, avoid risky ingredients.  Most supermarket convenience foods contain corn, soy and canola – ingredients that are very likely to be genetically modified.  Some ingredients will be obvious, like corn flour, corn meal, corn starch, corn syrup, soy flour, soy lecithin, soy protein isolate, soy isoflavone, canola oil, cottonseed oil.  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, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, maltodextrin, molasses, sucrose, textured vegetable protein (tvp), xanthan gum, vitamins, and yeast.  Its a pretty sure bet that conventional supermarket packaged foods 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 – Get an organic turkey (or ham).  Even better, find a local turkey farm or pig rancher so that you can talk to them about how they raise their animals.  You want to look for animals that have been fed a non-gmo diet and have access to the outdoors.  The healthiest animals are ones that have been eating their traditional diets so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

5 – Cook with whole food ingredients.  When your mashed potatoes are simply made with potatoes, butter and milk (make sure the butter and milk is organic), you know exactly what you’re eating without looking at a long list of chemical ingredients.  Choosing whole foods over processed foods is one of the easiest ways to make sure you’re avoiding GMO’s.  There are very few whole foods that are GMO, at least for now.  The ones to look out for and buy organic are:  papaya, sweet corn, zucchini/yellow squash, and soy.

Avoiding GMO ingredients is easy when you know you have organic alternatives.  The chart above gives you great suggestions for replacements.  For just about any convenience food you can think of, there’s an organic or non-gmo version, you just have to know what to look for!

Are there any holiday foods 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!

Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers: A Look at Both the Pros & Cons

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 cloth-diapersbaby 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!

Disposable Diapers

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Easy to dispose

Cons

  • 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.

Cloth Diapers

Pros:

  • 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?!

Cons:

  • 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.

What you need to know: GMO Myths and Truths

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
gmo myths

Photo Credit: Lindsay Stradtner

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?

Avoiding GMO’s Part III: Are There GMO’s in Your Favorite Candy?

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.

 

Avoiding GMO's

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!

Organic Halloween Candy & Healthy Activities for Kids

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 organic-halloween-candyeating 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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…”
  3. 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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