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organic food

Delicious Gluten Free Organic Foods Do Exist

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

Why Gluten Free Organic Foods?

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

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

 

Where To Find Gluten Free Organic Foods

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

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

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

Fast, Delicious Organic Soup Recipe – Spinach Potato Soup

Organic Vegan Spinach Soup

Looking for a fast, easy, delicious soup for a cold winter night?

Try this delicious, organic (vegan) spinach soup recipe – ready in minutes!

This is one of my all time favorite organic soup recipes – spinach potato. It cooks up in minutes, it’s a vibrant green and the potato gives it a great mouth feel without adding any fat. It’s satisfying, filling and packed with healthy nutrients. If you’ve ever had the urge to ‘eat something green’ on a cold winter day, this recipe is for you.

 

 

 

 

Yield: Four 8 oz servings, you can double this recipe for larger servings

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:

Tools:
Large pot
Vegetable steamer
Immersion blender or food processor

Ingredients:
1 large container (16 oz.) fresh, organic spinach (you can substitute frozen, but it won’t be as fabulous).
1 large organic russet potato
1/8 tsp nutmeg or to taste
white pepper (black pepper is ok too) – to taste
salt – to taste

Directions:

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

You can serve this with a nice chunk of fresh bread, a bit of grated cheese or my favorite – a grilled cheese sandwich made with organic sharp cheddar cheese on dark rye or pumpernickel bread. Yum. Warm up, fill up and enjoy this delicious soup today!

Looking for ingredients?
Organic nutmeg

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

B Can Be Greater Than A

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between Grade A and Grade B organic maple syrup? We were taught as children that an A was always better than a B…but with maple syrup, that’s not always the case.

Organic Maple Syrup Origins

Organic maple syrup is a tree syrup (also, birch and palm sugars, which are tree syrups/sugars)  and these are made from evaporated sap of these trees. The maple tree originated in Japan or China. According to one of my favorite authors, Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking, there are four species of maple in North America that are good for sugaring. According to McGee, one species, the Acer saccharum, supplies most of our maple syrup due to the quantity and quality of sap it produces. Weather conditions have a significant impact on the flavors, so most maple sap is collected in the northeastern US and eastern Canada.

Another interesting scientific fact is that other trees such as birch, elm and hickory also produce sap. Maple sap is unique in that the tree stores sugar from the prior season and pushes those out in the spring after the first thaw. The sugar is pushed out of the trunk into the actively growing zone called (think back to your biology classes….), the cambium. Enough science for today (and thanks, again, Mr. McGee).

Organic Maple Syrup Production

A tap into the cambium allows sap to run off, which is collected and concentrated. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce a gallon of syrup. The evaporation can be done using heat, though most manufacturers today use reverse osmosis. According to McGee, Native Americans used the fact that spring evenings could still be freezing at night in New England. The sap was laid out in vessels and the water would freeze overnight. In the morning, the ice would be broken and disposed of. The sugar didn’t freeze, only the water – so over the course of several days, the water would freeze and be discarded and the sap grew browner and sweeter. So, for those of you New Englanders who have an Acer saccharum variety maple tree in your yard, you can use the original, no-tech method and produce some of your very own organic maple syrup….but back to our grades.

 Organic Maple Syrup Grades

The longer the sap is evaporated, the stronger the flavor becomes. The final composition, according to McGee, is approximately 62% sucrose, 34% water, 3% glucose and fructose and 0.5% malic acid and other acids as well as trace amino acids. The longer and hotter the syrup is processed, the more intense the flavor and sugar content.

Grade A is assigned to lighter syrup, which has a more delicate flavor and less concentrated sugars. This grade is often used to pour onto foods such as pancakes and waffles.

Grade B is assigned to darker, heavier syrup with a more intense flavor profile and more concentrated sugars. It typically has more caramel flavor and is often used in baked goods, glazes and other cooking/baking uses.

Grade C is no longer used as a designation, it was combined with Grade B, so you won’t find Grade C available in the U.S.

If you’re like me, you use maple syrup somewhat sparingly – it’s a relatively expensive sweetener (but well worth the flavor it adds). I keep Grade B on hand and use it both for pouring over my delicious organic pancakes (recipe another time) as well as in baking and cooking.

Organic Maple Syrup Products To Try

shopOrganic & shopGMOFree offer several maple syrup options worth exploring. I’ve listed a few below that you might want to try.

Organic Maple Syrup, Grade B
Cadia Organic Grade A Maple Syrup, 12 oz., glass bottle.Want to try Grade A? Cadia makes a wonderful Grade A organic maple syrup in a glass bottle perfect for giving or receiving (hint: gift idea). Delicious over pancakes, waffles, in your oatmeal or in any dish you want a delicate maple flavor.
Organic Maple Syrup, Grade A
Shady Maple Pure Organic Maple Syrup, Grade B, 32 oz., Plastic jug.This hefty 32 ounce plastic jug from Shady Maple contains 100% pure organic Grade B maple syrup. This is the one I keep on hand for all my baking, cooking and topping needs. This Grade B is not as pretty as its Grade A counterpart, but the price is slightly lower and the flavor more intense, suits me fine.
Organic Maple Syrup Granules
Frontier Cooperative, Organic Maple Syrup Granules, 16 oz. (dry)Frontier makes organic maple syrup granules, which are course sugar-like granules that can be used as you would any granulated (dry vs. liquid) sweetener. These granules impart that wonderful maple flavor, so it’s a great substitute sugar for baked goods where a maple flavor would add a desired dimension.Or, click here to browse all organic maple syrup products at shopOrganic & shopGMOFree.
More Info For You:
 On Food And Cooking, Harold McGee

Failure to Yield – The Truth About GMOs

I just finished watching the movie Genetic Roulette online for the third time. Each time I watch it, I notice some new facet about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) that I hadn’t noticed as clearly before. This time, it was the stark fact that the chemical companies who promote GMOs have been promising that the use of GMOs would create higher yields of food and therefore feed the world. Read the Union of Concern Scientists’ Failure to Yield report.

The truth is quite different. First, without GMOs, there is plenty of food in the world to feed everyone. The problem is not the production of food, but the distribution of food which is a whole other problem to solve.  So, let’s put that misinformation to rest.

Still, chemical companies would have you believe that we NEED GMOs in order to manage our production so we can all eat more at a lower cost. In most industrialized nations, the problem is not about having enough food and it’s become more a problem of having healthy food.

According to the Union of Concern Scientists, the promises of increased production are false. According to the USC, “Despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase U.S. crop yields.”

In fact, many farmers are beginning to see that their yields are lower after buying these GMO seeds and spraying chemical products on those seeds. One cotton farmer interviewed in Genetic Roulette said he began to really question his initial decision to use GMO seed when he began reading the dire health warnings on the seed bag itself. Don’t eat it, don’t touch it, don’t breath it, don’t let it touch your skin….sounds like the warning label on poison, doesn’t it?

The bottom line is this – chemical companies like Monsanto have been promoting the use of chemicals under the promise of higher yields (i.e. more crops for the farmer as lower costs), and that has not been the case. As farmers see their crop yields drop and their animals suffer from eating GMO crops, they’re beginning to understand that their livelihood depends on them NOT using GMOs.

The tide is turning and as the links between GMOs and human health, livestock health, crop yields and agricultural sustainability are known, people will vote with their dollars and avoid GMOs. Our health as a nation, as a world and as a species literally depends on it.

If GMOs Are So Great, Why Not Advertise Them?

This month is the 3rd annual non-GMO month and shopOrganic has relaunched as shopOrganic & shopGMOFree because we believe consumers should have the ability to purchase foods they know is free of GMOs. But, as a consumer, you don’t always know – you can’t see from reading a label what ingredients might be GMOs.

As you’ve no doubt noticed, there’s a lot of buzz around genetically modified organisms (GMO) right now, especially in light of the upcoming California vote on Prop 37, which would require manufacturers to label GMOs in their products.

California is the 8th largest economy in the world (yes, you read that right), so if manufacturers are required to label GMOs in California, all products they sell (likely) will be labeled since it’s not cost-effective to have packaging for California and packaging for the rest of the country.

I can’t speak to the text of California’s Prop 37 – I’m not a voter there and haven’t read the bill in its entirety. However, I can speak to wanting to know what’s in the food I’m eating. That’s pretty fundamental. And, to repurpose one of the common arguments FOR Prop 37, if GMOs are not harmful or better yet, if they’re so great, why the refusal to label them as such?

When foods are packed with Omega 3’s, manufacturers splash that all over the packaging. The big thing right now seems to be “made with 33g whole grain”, which I honestly don’t know exactly why that matters since that product has 1g fiber per serving….but I digress. The point is when there’s a health benefit – real or perceived – manufacturers are quick to pounce on it and announce it all over their packaging, even when it’s just “window dressing”. So why don’t we see big splashy packaging announcing “packed with GMOs!” or “made with the latest GMOs, try it today and taste the difference!” ?

Manufacturers don’t advertise it because there is no consumer benefit to GMOs in foods (lots of downside, but that’s for another post). The benefit is to large growers and manufacturers and, as most major issues in life, it comes down to money. Maybe it’s about control as well, but ultimately, I think it’s just about the money.

So, here’s my suggestion  – since this is the 3rd annual non-GMO month, check out the movie Genetic Roulette (www.geneticroulette.com) or visit the folks at Responsible Technology (www.responsibletechnology.org) to learn more. It’s a fascinating topic and when you have a wide range of really smart people from many different social and scientific disciplines opposing GMOs, it’s worth paying attention to. Learn more, become informed, form your own opinion.

In the meantime, shopOrganic just relaunched as <a href=”http://www.shoporganic.com” target=”blank”>shopOrganic & shopGMOFree</a> to let our customers know that every product we carry is <b>free of GMOs.</b> We’ve dropped entire product lines because the manufacturer indicated their products all contain some GMOs (that was a real jaw-dropper). We’ve added new products (often from smaller producers) to offer products that we know are organic & GMO-free. Visit today and shop safe.

shopOrganic online organic retailer relaunches shopOrganic & shopGMOFree

So, I’ve let this blog get a bit stale, we’ve been busy running our growing company, but I’m happy to announce we’re re-booting our blog and revamping our website this month in honor of the 3rd annual non-GMO month.

shopOrganic, the premier online retailer of organic foods and eco-friendly products, has just re-launched as shopOrganic & shopGMOfree.

shopGMOFree

Without mandatory labeling, it’s difficult for consumers to determine whether their favorite products are produced using GMO’s. As U.S. consumer concern over GMO’s reaches critical mass, interest in non-GMO shopping options is on the rise and shopOrganic & shopGMOFree have responded by offering the widest range of organic and non-GMO products available online today.

shopOrganic has responded to this need by ensuring that the thousands of organic foods and eco-friendly products offered on their site are GMO free. The newly redesigned site focuses on consumers searching for non-GMO foods and provides reassurance about the nature of the products they purchase. The timing of the re-launch coincides with both the celebration of the 3rd annual Non-GMO month and the upcoming California vote on the labeling of GMO products.

I was amazed to learn that recent studies show that over 90% of all Americans want to know if their food contains genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). I knew there was serious interest in this topic, but I didn’t realize so many Americans shared this concern about GMOs. A genetically modified organism (GMO) is a plant or animal whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. And though the data is not definitive on the safety of consuming foods with GMOs, it seems reasonable to WANT know whether or not the food you’re eating contains GMOs. In the U.S. there are currently no restrictions on GMO’s, but in many other countries around the world, GMOs are banned. These countries include the entire European Union as well as China and Russia. Curious why the U.S. is so far behind this curve….

shopOrganic & shopGMOfree believes that everyone has a right to safe and healthy food and they make it easy for concerned consumers to shop without the worry that they’ll be feeding themselves and their families GMO foods.

October marks the 3rd annual Non-GMO Month. Started in order to raise awareness of GMO’s this month-long educational opportunity broadens the knowledge to a wider and wider population each year.  The issue has created a groundswell of concern in California, where their population will soon vote on Proposition 37, a GMO labeling initiative. Whether or not that proposition passes, shopOrganic & shopGMOfree remains a trusted non-GMO shopping source.

shopOrganic.com was founded in 2008 to provide consumers with access to organic, non-GMO and eco-friendly products.  The company is located in Tucson, Arizona and is privately held.

Science Links Pesticides with ADHD

A new study links Attention Deficit disorder with pesticide exposure – (here’s the link to the story). I don’t know about you, but this isn’t really as much a surprise as a confirmation of what we already knew but had little scientific evidence to cite.

Pesticides were actually developed as chemicals for warfare. After World War II, someone had the no-so-brilliant-thought to spray those chemicals that were stockpiled on plants to kill pests. I’m not quite sure why no one ever thought about the fact that those chemicals sit on the leaves of the plants, soak into the roots of the plants and are then ingested. I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time….

I guess it’s easy to sit back and second guess 60 or 70 years’ worth of ‘conventional’ agricultural wisdom, but it still seems like a no brainer that you don’t want to douse your food in poison.
This article points to the link between certain pesticides and ADHD. I remember an elderly friend of mine once speaking a bit mockingly of all these new ‘disorders’ – but maybe there really are a new host of disorders all stemming from our dousing our environment with toxic chemicals.

Of course, at shopOrganic, we’ve always believed it was healthier for our bodies and the planet to eat organic; now the scientific community is starting to look at the underlying science and is coming to the same conclusion.

So, while it’s important to teach children to eat a balanced diet, it also needs to be a diet free from toxic chemicals. Go organic, you and your children are worth it.

Shades of Green

There’s been a big flap in the organic world lately regarding the recommendation by a reputable organic association that consumers should buy conventionally grown fruits or vegetables that are not heavily sprayed with pesticides if price is a concern. This was picked up by many national news organizations and has lead to some pretty loud virtual arguments going on. The gist of it was that some fruits and vegetables are heavily sprayed with pesticides and eating conventionally grown varieties is not recommended. On the other hand, this same report said that there were some conventionally grown varieties that were not full of pesticides and that if you wanted to save on your food bill, you could ‘safely’ consume these conventional varieties.

So the discussion has centered around whether or not you should ‘ever’ buy conventionally grown produce. My take on it is this: we each have to make choices that are appropriate for ourselves, our families and our budgets. Life is not black and white, all or nothing. It’s about constantly finding a balance. Whether you go (or have gone) all organic or part organic; all green or part green is something you choose for yourself based on a variety of often complex factors. Clearly, the arguments for all organic, all green all the time are strong – but most of us find some blend, some mix that works in our lives.

From my perspective, it’s about making conscious choices and making incremental improvements over time. If each of us takes whatever tiny steps toward a greener future that work for us, it will make a difference. Is organic better for you, for the community, for the planet? Sure it is, but sometimes we have to make tough choices given the economic realities of our lives. We founded shopOrganic.com, in part, to provide a wide range of organic products at fair prices to people across the U.S. We, too, have to make those choices each day as well.

My hope is that one day we’ll look back on this time and laugh at the notion that we ever sprayed chemicals on food we ate. Still, we have to deal with the economic realities we face and sometimes the cost difference between organic and conventional can be prohibitive for those on tight budgets. I have noticed that the price difference seems to be disappearing on certain products – so smart shopping will help you find organic products at the same (or, gasp, even lower) prices as conventionally grown items in some stores.

I’ll end with two quotes that perhaps sum up this entire discussion.

“It may be necessary temporarily to accept a lesser evil, but one must never label a necessary evil as good.”

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

- Margaret Mead

Now, go out there and enjoy your day.

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