An Inside Look at Healthy Living...

Friday, May 12, 2017

What is Organic Food?

What is Organic Food?

Courtesy of Sustainable Baby Steps

What is and isn't organic food, via
Knowing what is organic food and what isn't is important to help you understand and make the best health choices for you and your family.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity."
Um yeah, but exactly what is organic food? Simply put, organic food is any food that has been grown using accepted organic practices. Those organic practices include:
  • No chemical pesticides: Pesticides have been linked to numerous cancers, diseases and disorders in adults and children. They also create superbugs that are resistent to pest control and create more problems for farmers and gardeners alike. Read more about the dangers of pesticides here.
  • No chemical herbicides: Keeping weeds at bay is important to the gorwth of food, but petroleum-based herbicides disrupt plant hormones, impacts the natural balance of habitats and has an effect on our health. Read more about herbicide toxicity here.
  • No chemical fertilizers: Fertile soil is necessary for plant growth, but chemical fertilizers contaminate the groundwater, contribute to cancers and other diseases and can actually lead to soil infertility. Read more about the effects of chemical fertilizers here.
  • No genetically-modified organisms: GMOs are still highly untested, although we know they can contaminate organic fields quickly and easily with their seed. GMO seed can also be patented, meaning companies can actually own a farmer's crop, or even the contaminated farmer's crop. Even if GMOs seem safe or healthy, they certainly don't seem ethical. Read more about GMOs here.
  • No artificial additives: This includes artificial colors, perservatives, flavors, taste enhancers, etc which have been shown to have an adverse affect on our health.
  • No hormones or antibiotics: Any organic animal products should be raised without growth enhancers or antibiotics which reach our own systems. Animal feed must also be organic so no trace substances reach our systems.
  • No other strange or gross practices: No irradiation, no sewer sludge, and nothing else that goes against common sense or Nature.
No farmer or manufacturer is permitted to use the term "organic" on their label without being certified. They may however specify if certain ingredients are organic, or if the grower or producer follows organic practices without certification they will often highlight the practices they follow, such as "Grown with Pesticides" or "Raised with Hormones or Antibiotics".
Organic food is instead grown with organic pesticide and herbicide methods, using only natural fertilizers, organic or heirloom (traditional) seeds, no or all-natural perservatives and holistic animal husbandry practices.
So, how do you tell what is organic food and what isn't? Well, you can look for the certification from multiple private or governmental agencies, such as USDA Organic or Quality Assurance International (QAI). Or you can get to know your local farmer's at the farmer's market, ask them about their practices or visit their farm to know more.

What is Organic Food NOT?

Although knowing what is organic food does guarantee you certain things, there are several things that the "Certified Organic" label can't guarantee:
  • May not be humanely raised: Just because someone is raising organic meat or dairy doesn't mean they are doing it for humane reasons. Organically-raised animals may still be housed in small living areas or treated poorly. This is more rare since poor or inhumane living conditions and treatment often lead to animals that need antiobitics, which means they can't be certified organic.
  • May not be naturally raised: Seems contradictory right? But just because your milk says organic, doesn't mean the cows ate grass, their biologically-appropriate food. Feeding organic corn and grain to cows, chickens or other animals is unhealthy for them and unhealthy for us.
  • May not be eco-friendly: Organic doesn't always mean eco-friendly. Manure runoff may still contaminate areas, improper growing practices may still strip the topsoil, etc.
  • May not be local: Food grown or raised on the other side of the Earth and shipped to you is not only unhealthy for the environment, it also means less nutrition for you as the food is either older or was picked before fully ripen and at peak nutrition.
  • May not be sustainable: All of these points lead to one conclusion: Unsustainability. If our food system is not sustainable, organic or not, it's not going to be good for us or the environment.
  • May not be 100% organic: There is a lot of controversy over whether farmers can use small amounts of non-organic practices or manufacturers can add certain non-organic additives. For instance, according to the USDA, manifacturers using less than 70% of what is organic ingredients can't use the USDA Organic seal. But does that mean 30% of the ingredients CAN be non-organic and still use the seal? Complicates things doesn't it?
Understanding what isn't doesn't change what is: Organic food is still a better choice, especially when you're shopping at the grocery store and don't know your farmer, and CAN stil be just as affordable
But knowing your farmer, shopping the local farmer's market, visiting the farm and even growing your own organic garden will always help you to know for sure what is organic food and what is organic AND sustainable.

Grow Your Own Garlic

Grow Your Own Garlic 

One of the foods I find expensive to buy in the supermarket today is garlic.  The price of garlic has risen tremendously over the past few years!  For 5 roses of garlic,  I pay $ 2.50.  To combat this, I don't let garlic go to waste.  Sometimes you will find cloves that start to sprout if you haven't used garlic in a while.  I take these cloves and immediately plant them in a planter with potting soil.  The sprouts can be used as garlic chives and the cloves themselves will develop into garlic bulbs.  You can harvest them as babies, wait until they mature, or harvest them anywhere in between.  Either way, you will prevent your garlic from going to waste.

Foods High in Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Foods High in Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats with numerous health benefits, particularly regarding cardiovascular health. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is a type of Omega 3 fat found in plant foods which cannot be manufactured by the human body. Once consumed, ALAs can be converted into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPAs and DHAs are also typically found in seafood.

Foods High in Omega 3 Fatty Acids include flaxseed oil, fish oil, chia seeds, walnuts, fish roe (eggs), fatty fish, seafood, soybeans, and spinach. Below are the top 10 foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids, for more, see the extended list of foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and the list of foods with a high omega 3 to omega 6 ratio.

#1: Flaxseed Oil (Cold Pressed) 
Omega-3 100g Per cup (218g)Per tablespoon (14g)
53449mg 116519mg 7483mg
Other Vegetable Oils High in Omega-3 (per tablespoon):Canola Oil (1279mg), and Soybean Oil (950mg). Click to see complete nutrition facts.

#2: Fish Oil (Salmon) 
Omega-3 100g Per tablespoon (14g)Per teaspoon (5g)
37044mg 5186mg 1852mg 
Other Fish Oils High in Omega-3 (per tablespoon): Menhaden (4114mg), Sardine (3611mg), Cod Liver Oil (2763mg), and Herring (1876mg). Click to see complete nutrition facts.

#3: Chia Seeds 
Omega-3 100g Per 2oz (56g)Per ounce (28g)
17830mg9984mg 4992mg
Flaxseeds are also high in Omega 3s providing 6388mg per ounce or 2281mg per tablespoon. Click to see complete nutrition facts.

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#4: Walnuts & Walnut Oil (Walnuts) 
Omega-3 100g Per cup, pieces (120g)Per ounce (28g)
9080mg 10896mg 2542mg
Other Nuts High in Omega-3 (per ounce): Butternuts (2441mg), Black Walnuts (750mg), Beechnuts (476mg), Hickory Nuts (293mg), Pecans (289mg), Pine Nuts (220mg), Pistachios (73mg), and Macadamia Nuts (58mg). Walnut Oil contains (1456mg) per tablespoon. Click to see complete nutrition facts.

#5: Fish Roe (Caviar) 
Omega-3 100g Per ounce (28g)Per tablespoon (16g)
6803mg 1905mg 1088mg 
Fish Roe from most species provides 342mg of Omega 3s per tablespoon (14g). Click to see complete nutrition facts.

#6: Cured & Canned Fish (Smoked Salmon) 
Omega-3 100g Per fillet (108g)Per ounce (28g)
2880mg 3110mg 806mg 
Other Cured & Canned Fish High in Omega-3 (per ounce):Salted Mackerel (1504mg), Kippered Herring (705mg), Canned Anchovy (609mg), Canned Mackerel (403mg), Canned Salmon (375mg), Canned Sardines (310mg). Click to see complete nutrition facts.

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#7: Oily Fish (Mackerel) 
Omega-3 100g Per fillet (112g)Per 3oz (85g)
2789mg 3124mg 2371mg 
Other Fish High in Omega-3 (per 3oz): American Shad (2396mg), Farmed Salmon (2234mg), Salmon (2151mg), Wild Salmon (1545mg), Herring (1564mg), Anchovy (1827mg), Tuna (1457mg), Halibut (1242mg), Trout (1065mg), and Swordfish (913mg). Click to see complete nutrition facts.

#8: Seafood (Oysters) 
Omega-3 100g Per 3 ounces (85g)In a medium oyster (25g)
1584mg 1346mg 396mg 
Other Seafood High in Omega-3 (per ounce):Mussels (762mg), Squid (470mg), and Clams (357mg). Click to see complete nutrition facts.

#9: Soybeans (Roasted) 
Omega-3 100g Per cup (172g)Per ounce (28g)
1694mg 2914mg 474mg
Other Soy Foods High in Omega-3 (per ounce): Dried-Frozen Tofu (Koyadofu) (567mg), Fried Tofu (377mg), Raw Firm Tofu (163mg), and Fuyu (Fermented Tofu) (150mg). Click to see complete nutrition facts.

#10: Spinach (Cooked, Boiled)
Omega-3 100g Per cup (190g)1 cup raw (30g)
371mg 704mg 41mg
Other Vegetables High in Omega-3 (per cup, cooked without added oil): Winter Squash (664mg), Brussels Sprouts (270mg), Cauliflower (208mg), Kale (163mg), and Broccoli (151mg). Click to see complete nutrition facts.See the nutrient ranking for 500 vegetables high in Omega 3s. (Note some vegetables are cooked in high omega 3 oils and should not be taken into account.)

Anti-Cancer Veggies

Anti-Cancer Veggies

Courtesy of Everyday Health
An anti-cancer diet is an important strategy you can use to reduce your risk of cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends, for example, that you eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily and eat the right amount of food to stay at a healthy weight. In addition, researchers are finding that certain foods may be particularly useful in protecting you from cancer. Make room in your diet for the following foods and drinks to fight cancer.

Anti-Cancer Diet: Garlic

Several large studies have found that those who eat more garlic are less likely to develop various kinds of cancer, especially in digestive organs such as the esophagus, stomach, and colon. Ingredients in the pungent bulbs may keep cancer-causing substances in your body from working, or they may keep cancer cells from multiplying. Experts don’t know how much you need to eat to prevent cancer, but a clove a day may be helpful.

Anti-Cancer Diet: Berries

As a tasty treat, berries are hard to beat. But their juicy goodness also may make them one of the foods to fight cancer. Berries contain particularly powerful antioxidants, meaning they can halt a naturally occurring process in the body that creates free radicals that can damage your cells. Compounds in berries may also help keep cancers from growing or spreading. So, as part of your anti-cancer diet, pick up a handful of blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, or any other favorite berries today.

Anti-Cancer Diet: Tomatoes

Some research has found that eating tomatoes may help protect men from prostate cancer. The juicy red orbs can help guard the DNA in your cells from damage that can lead to cancer. Tomatoes contain a particularly high concentration of an effective antioxidant called lycopene. Your body may absorb lycopene better from processed tomato foods such as sauce, which means that whole-wheat pasta with marinara sauce could be a delicious way to help lower your risk of this disease.

Anti-Cancer Diet: Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables — the group containing broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower — may be particularly helpful in protecting you from cancer. Researchers have found that components in these veggies can protect you from the free radicals that can damage your cells' DNA. They may also shield you from cancer-causing chemicals, help slow the growth of tumors, and encourage cancer cells to die. They’re a tasty and healthy addition to your anti-cancer diet.

Anti-Cancer Diet: Green Tea

Tea contains antioxidants called catechins, which may help prevent cancer in a variety of ways, including keeping free radicals from damaging cells. Lab studies have found that catechins in tea can shrink tumors and reduce tumor cell growth. Some — but not all — studies in humans have also linked drinking tea to a lower risk of cancer. Both green and black teas contain catechins, but you’ll get more antioxidants from green tea, so you may want to consider a cup or more in your anti-cancer diet.

Anti-Cancer Diet: Whole Grains

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, whole grains contain many components that might lower your risk of cancer, including fiber and antioxidants. A large study including nearly half a million people found that eating more whole grains might lower the risk of colorectal cancer, making them a top item in the category of foods to fight cancer. Oatmeal, barley, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread and pasta are all examples of whole grains.

Anti-Cancer Diet: Turmeric

This orange-colored spice, a staple in Indian curries, contains an ingredient called curcumin (not the same as cumin) that might be useful in reducing cancer risk. According to the American Cancer Society, curcumin can inhibit some kinds of cancer cells in laboratory studies and slow the spread of cancer or shrink tumors in some animals. Turmeric is easy to find in grocery stores, and you can use it in a variety of recipes.

Anti-Cancer Diet: Leafy Green Vegetables

Leafy green vegetables like spinach and lettuce are good sources of the antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein. You’ll also find these nutrients in vegetables that are more traditionally eaten cooked, like collard greens, mustard greens, and kale. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, some lab studies have found that chemicals in these foods may limit the growth of some kinds of cancer cells.

Anti-Cancer Diet: Grapes

The skin of red grapes is a particularly rich source of an antioxidant called resveratrol. Grape juice and red wine also contain this antioxidant. According to the National Cancer Institute, resveratrol may be useful in keeping cancer from beginning or spreading. Lab studies have found that it limits the growth of many kinds of cancer cells; in men, moderate amounts of red wine have been linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer.

Anti-Cancer Diet: Beans

Certain fruits and vegetables and other plant foods get plenty of recognition for being good sources of antioxidants, but beans often are unfairly left out of the picture. Some beans, particularly pinto and red kidney beans, are outstanding sources of antioxidants and should be included in your anti-cancer diet. Beans also contain fiber, and eating a high-fiber diet may also help reduce your risk of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green



10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green

April 18, 2006
How can we live lightly on the Earth and save money at the same time? Staff members at the Worldwatch Institute, a global environmental organization, share ideas on how to GO GREEN and SAVE GREEN at home and at work. To learn more about Worldwatch's efforts to create am environmentally sustainable society that meets human needs, sign up here for weekly e-mail updates.
Climate change is in the news. It seems like everyone's "going green." We're glad you want to take action, too. Luckily, many of the steps we can take to stop climate change can make our lives better. Our grandchildren-and their children-will thank us for living more sustainably. Let's start now.
We've partnered with the Million Car Carbon Campaign to help you find ways to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. This campaign is uniting conscious consumers around the world to prevent the emissions-equivalent of 1 million cars from entering the atmosphere each year.
Keep reading for 10 simple things you can do today to help reduce your environmental impact, save money, and live a happier, healthier life. For more advice, purchase State of the World 2010 - Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability, a report from 60 renowned researchers and practitioners on how to reorient cultures toward sustainability.
  1. Save energy to save money.
    • Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
    • Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when your older incandescent bulbs burn out.
    • Unplug appliances when you're not using them. Or, use a "smart" power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts "phantom" or "vampire" energy use.
    • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.
    • Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying.
  2. Save water to save money.
    • Take shorter showers to reduce water use. This will lower your water and heating bills too.
    • Install a low-flow showerhead. They don't cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment.
    • Make sure you have a faucet aerator on each faucet. These inexpensive appliances conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
    • Plant drought-tolerant native plants in your garden. Many plants need minimal watering. Find out which occur naturally in your area.
  3. Less gas = more money (and better health!).
    • Walk or bike to work. This saves on gas and parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity.
    • Consider telecommuting if you live far from your work. Or move closer. Even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
    • Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in bettering your health and reducing traffic.
  4. Eat smart.
  5. Skip the bottled water.

    • Use a water filter to purify tap water instead of buying bottled water. Not only is bottled water expensive, but it generates large amounts of container waste.
    • Bring a reusable water bottle, preferably aluminum rather than plastic, with you when traveling or at work.
    • Check out this short article for the latest on bottled water trends.
  6. Think before you buy.

    • Go online to find new or gently used secondhand products. Whether you've just moved or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharing to track down furniture, appliances, and other items cheaply or for free.
    • Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops for clothing and other everyday items.
    • Watch a video about what happens when you buy things. Your purchases have a real impact, for better or worse.
  7. Borrow instead of buying.
    • Borrow from libraries instead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.
    • Share power tools and other appliances. Get to know your neighbors while cutting down on the number of things cluttering your closet or garage.
  8. Buy smart.
    • Buy in bulk. Purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.
    • Wear clothes that don't need to be dry-cleaned. This saves money and cuts down on toxic chemical use.
    • Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you'll be happy when you don't have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!).
  9. Keep electronics out of the trash.
    • Keep your cell phones, computers, and other electronics as long as possible.
    • Donate or recycle them responsibly when the time comes. E-waste contains mercury and other toxics and is a growing environmental problem.
    • Recycle your cell phone.
    • Ask your local government to set up an electronics recycling and hazardous waste collection event.
  10. Make your own cleaning supplies.
    • The big secret: you can make very effective, non-toxic cleaning products whenever you need them. All you need are a few simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap.
    • Making your own cleaning products saves money, time, and packaging-not to mention your indoor air quality.