Eco-Conscious, Green Consumer, natural foods

Why Organic Food Is Becoming An Even Better Choice

For years, I’ve compromised. I prefer organic coffee, but it’s always been so pricey that I’ve mixed it half and half with cheaper Fair Trade but not organic coffee. Every once in awhile, I’d check the prices of organic coffee, but every time, even the store brand was much more expensive than the generic non-organic.

That’s why I was stunned when I checked it a few days ago and found that the store brand organic was actually cheaper per-pound than the generic non-organic coffee I usually buy. What’s going on here, I wondered. Well, whatever is going on, it’s going on with other foods too. The organic cereal that Daughter loves is cheaper than the giant cereal conglomerate’s non-organic and so were dozens of other items.

I have no actual proof for why this is happening, at least here in the Northeast, but I have a theory. Organic food production doesn’t use chemical fertilizers. Most organic producers didn’t have to adapt their growing practices when prices started rising, because they’d started out with a business model that uses less energy than big agro-businesses.

I suspect that their delivery fleets are more fuel-efficient also, because the kind of business owner who believes that organically grown produce is better is generally more eco-conscious. So as fuel prices rise and chemical fertilizers and pesticides add to the cost of the corn in your frozen dinner, Annie’s macaroni and cheese dinners are priced to compete with that orange-colored competitor from the Big K.

It will be interesting to see if this trend continues.

Authors: Rachel M. Gonzales from

natural foods

What’s Eating You – Or Vice Versa?

Food prices are rising, but unlike much of the rest of the world, most Americans have a variety of foods to choose from. Walk down the aisles of any supermarket in the US and you’ll see vegetables glistening with drops of water from the misters over them, rows and rows of red, juicy steaks, roasts and burger, fish from oceans, lakes and fish farms and canned and frozen meals and snacks. No wonder we’re so healthy with all this to choose from. But is this food as good as it looks?

Nutritionally, foods grown with conventional farming methods isn’t as nutritious as food grown organically. Chemical fertilizers deplete the soil. They don’t encourage soil organisms that promote the biodiversity of worms, nematodes, bacteria, minerals and enzymes that organic farming does.  Chemically fertilized soil is sterile soil. Not what you want your carrots and peas grown in.

Conventional farming also uses synthetic pesticides,  herbicides and fungicides. These chemicals remain in the soil for lifetimes and have adverse effects on our bodies. Although they’re regulated by the government, for the most part, they’re declared “safe” one at a time, not on the basis of how much of all of them someone would take in by eating the normal American diet. Babies and children, especially, with their growing bodies and higher intake of some of these foods (think apples, peanut butter and cereal grains) may be more affected by toxins.

Meat contains antibiotics and meat animals are often raised in horrible conditions, crowded together in their own filth and easy prey for disease. If cows aren’t fed on grass, their meat’s nutritional value is not as high and beef cattle (and sheep also) may be legally given growth hormones, which can act like estrogen on humans. These growth hormones have been linked to developmental delays in children and to cancer. And while growth hormones aren’t allowed in poultry-raising, low doses of arsenic are and chickens are often raised packed so closely together that some of them suffocate.

Then there’s the growth hormone, rBGH, they give milk cows that often gives them mastitis, a painful inflammation of their udders, which means they need antibiotics which show up in their milk. Another thing that shows up in milk from cows who are given rBGH is Insulin Growth Factor 1 or EGF-1, a hormone that is linked to colon, prostate and breast cancer in humans. Europe and Canada have banned rGBH, but until the US does, buying organic milk is the only way to know for sure that it’s not in the milk you drink.

Canned food almost always contains BPA that leaches from the plastic lining. Frozen food comes in plastic trays that also leach BPA and it almost all of it contains GMO (genetically modified organism) as does most processed food whether in bags, boxes, cans or bottles. GMOs are plants that have had a gene from another plant or organism “spliced” into their DNA. One problem with GMOs is that people who are allergic to something may unknowingly eat something that contains the gene from what they’re allergic to.

Another problem is that no one knows what effect eating GMO food might have on the unsuspecting people who eat it without realizing it. Because there’s no law mandating labelling of GMO food, there’s no way to tell if it’s in your food from looking at the label. There is a list of GMO and non-GMO food at The True Food Shopping List where you’ll also find more information about food safety.

So, enough with the doom and gloom. A person has to eat, so what do we do about all this? Well, we each have to decide to what degree we are willing and able to pursue safe food. Money, of course, is a factor, as is availability of organic, natural and locally produced food. In my case, I only buy organic meat, milk, veggies and fruit.  If I can’t afford organic, I don’t buy it. I usually buy organic bread, but sometimes opt for the store brand of sprouted grain bread. Once in awhile, I buy frozen food, even a frozen dinner, with the theory that “once in awhile” won’t kill me.

When it’s available, I buy local, organically raised food, but that’s not often for fruits and veggies in Maine. The only fish and shellfish I eat are wild-caught. Unfortunately, there are few organic restaurants nearby, so when we eat out, we just try to choose the most natural offerings. And, of course, we garden. Although my three-year trial of going vegetarian made me realize that I’m a confirmed omnivore, I love veggies, especially when we get to pick them fresh from our own garden. Just maybe, that’s the best way to be sure that your food is safe: grow it yourself.

natural foods, Recipes

Simple, Scrumptious Sauteed Desserts

If, like me, you believe that desserts are one of the basic food groups, but have been avoiding them to lose weight, this post is for you. Usually, when we think of dessert, we think of baked goods like cakes, cupcakes and pies. Or we think of the gooey, chemical-laden sweet poison that restaurants have conned us into thinking are worth the astronomical prices they charge for them. It doesn’t have to be like that, trust me.

Forget all that, get your sautee or frying pan out and whip up a dessert that doesn’t even really take a recipe, although I’ll give you a couple anyway.  You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Sauteed FRUIT? What the heck kind of dessert is that?” Well, it’s a pretty darned good dessert and it’s also really easy to personalize to your own tastes. You can pick the fruit or fruits, pick the spices, the flavorings and the topping, if you want one. You can serve it plain or with whipped cream or ice cream. (A small spritz of canned whipped topping won’t blow your calorie budget for the day and it is possible to get brands that don’t have too many horrible things in them.)

Sauteed fruit goes well with a lot of things like plain-ish cookies – think tea biscuit type cookies – or even plain baking powder biscuits, the kind you use for strawberry shortcake. I make my biscuits with lowfat, organic baking mix and put a pinch of cinnamon in them if I’m going to serve them with fruit. So, you’re saying, when do we get to the “how-to” part of this whole thing? Well, you can just slice some fruit, put a couple of pats of butter in a pan (or use cooking oil spray if you’d rather), heat the pan to medium, throw the fruit in and stir it as it softens and the juices start to bubble. Turn it down and let it simmer, stirring almost constantly so that it doesn’t burn. Add a little sweetener, if you like – but you won’t need much for most fruits. Add some oats – toasted or not. Coconut – ditto. Nuts or whatever you have on hand that you think will enhance the flavor of the fruit you’re using.

Or, you can use this Recipe for Sauteed Organic Washington Peaches from the folks at the PCC Natural Markets in Seattle. I’m sure you could substitute other fruit for peaches in this recipe also. One of our favorite desserts is Sauteed Apples with wild blueberries and real maple syrup. Organic Apples and blueberries are available at our local farmer’s market, so we get them when they’re in season, eat some and freeze some. We’re lucky to have friends who produce maple syrup from trees that aren’t sprayed, so we have good maple syrup too.

Simple they may be, but I’d stack Sauteed Fruit Desserts up beside any of the fancy-shmancy desserts at the big chain restaurants. And then I’d eat them before someone else got wise to how good they are.