Category Archives: Organics

4 Encouraging Facts About Food In America

Eat-Healthy

In today’s society, rarely is the news positive. Whether it’s on a local, national, or global level, networks generally focus on stories that can leave us disheartened and upset. Even some natural health websites will shift their focus of educating their audience on the benefits of eating healthy toward capitalizing on fear about food in our country, warning people the dangers and seemingly disastrous state of dietary trends in America. Fortunately, there have been great strides in nutrition for many people all across the world, and the demand for healthy foods is creating wider availability.

4 Bits of Good News about Healthy Eating and Food in America

There is wonderful news coming from schools, farming, and market trends, and things are looking up for the organic food community. Here are some encouraging facts about our food system to hopefully help brighten your outlook.

1. Healthy Eating is Trending

Your parents, athletic coaches, and doctors probably consistently tell you to “eat healthier,” but newer generations seem to have taken this advice to heart with little coaxing. The latest market statistics indicate that generation Z and Millennials both will pay more of a premium for healthier foods than the Baby Boomer generation. [1]

2. Food Producers are Listening to Demand

It’s even been shown that farmers whose animals are pasture fed and non-GMO can actually make a better living by keeping their meat organic. [2] Claims have even been made that organic farming can “feed the world” [3] if implemented in the appropriate ways. The biggest benefit of organic farming, though, would most likely be the fact that organically grown crops have proven more drought resistant.

3. Schools are Offering Better Food

The nutritional value of traditional school lunches across the U.S. has been the subject of many heated debates. Perhaps you’ve seen the now popular images of school lunches around the world. [4] Now, some major U.S. school districts have taken the first step in providing healthier, more balanced lunches for our nation’s students, even opting to serve antibiotic-free chicken. [5] Perdue Farms has committed to taking its hatching chicks off antibiotics, and Chick-Fil-A has a five year plan to be antibiotic free. I personally find the best benefit in a raw, vegan diet and won’t be eating any of those foods. All in all, it’s still one step in a positive direction.

4. The Backlash Against GMO Foods is Growing

Even Hershey’s, the notable chocolate company, has elected to ban GM ingredients in their products! [6] With more and more notable members in this nation electing to offer healthier options for the food we put in our bodies, it’s hopeful that the number of people opting for healthier living will continue to grow.

References:

  1. Horovitz, Bruce. Younger folks want healthier food – and will pay for it. USA Today. 2015.
  2. Ortiz, Edward. Market speaks louder than science: GMO-free animals a good business model. The Sacramento Bee. 2014.
  3. Bawden, Tom. Organic farming can feed the world if done right, scientists claim. Independent.co.uk. 2014.
  4. Pinar. This is What School Lunches Look Like Around the World. Distractify. 2014.
  5. Polansek, Tom. Big U.S. school districts plan switch to anti-biotic free chicken. Reuters. 2014.
  6. Poulter, Sean. Hershey bans GM ingredients amid growing backlash of ‘Frankenstein food. Daily Mail. 2015.

Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM has studied natural healing methods for over 20 years and now teaches individuals and practitioners all around the world. He no longer sees patients but solely concentrates on spreading the word of health and wellness to the global community. Under his leadership, Global Healing Center, Inc. has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural and organic health resources on the Internet.

Young Wisconsin Farmers Are Finding The Organic Market

farmer

The University of Wisconsin-Madison recently reported that although Wisconsin holds the second-highest number of organic farms in the country, consumer demand for organic produce and meat outpaces supply. The report also says that while conventional farmers continue to age, almost one-third of Wisconsin’s organic farmers are now under 45. Additionally, new farmers in Wisconsin are more likely to be organic farmers. Given projections on demand for organics, there seems to be plenty of room for more organic farmers in the marketplace.

A University of Wisconsin-Madison report says that the demand for organic produce and meat is outpacing the supply in Wisconsin.

It also says that organic farming continues to attract younger and newer farmers in the state, even as the average conventional farmer in Wisconsin continues to grow older.

Wisconsin is home to the second highest number of organic farms in the country. Although some producers are leading the way in organic dairy, beef, and certain vegetables, they can’t keep up with the demand from consumers. Organic grain, processed vegetables, and soybeans are still imported into Wisconsin.

UW-Madison plant pathology assistant professor Dr. Erin Silva coauthored the Organic Agriculture in Wisconsin 2015 Status Report. She says consumers will continue wanting more and more organic products.

“With the demand still strong, we don’t foresee a potential erosion of the organic premium. The projections do continue to see demand increasing over the next five years or so,” she said.

Silva said there’s plenty of room for new and transitioning farmers to jump into the organic market, where she says younger farmers are heavily represented. On Wisconsin’s conventional farms, 17 percent of producers are under the age of 45. On the state’s organic farms, nearly a third of them are.

Silva coauthored said the trend started several years ago.

“We certainly hope that with the interest of new farmers and a younger population in organic farming that that helps maintain and continues to support the overall agricultural economy,” said Silva.

The report shows that newer farmers are also more likely to be running organic farms than conventional ones.

7 Laws Of Gardening: Time-Tested Tips For Growing A Successful Garden

gardener

We all have the best of intentions in the beginning of summer. We plan on spending the season growing a beautiful lush garden. As the summer drags on, avoiding the heat becomes the top priority. From the neglect, your garden suffers. The plants may not be thriving, there may be bug infestations, or root rot. Inevitably, if there are enough issues, you give up altogether and call it a summer.

What you may not realize is there are laws that you must follow to ensure your plants have the best environment to thrive in. These gardening laws are essential in giving your plants a fighting chance at giving you a big harvest.

7 Laws For Successful Gardening

1. Start with good quality seeds. Seed quality plays an important role in a successful garden. As such, it is important to know seed characteristics such as trueness to variety, germination percentage, purity, vigor, and appearance are important to farmers planting crops and to homeowners establishing lawns and gardens. Further, growing heirloom seed varieties will ensure you can collect the seeds for subsequent harvests.

2. Feed the soil. Your plants need nutrients in order to grow healthy and produce fruit and vegetables. Ensuring they have these present in the soil will save you time and money on fertilizer.

I love incorporating the lasagna-style or sheet mulch gardening with the square foot gardening method. This is the best opportunity to introduce compostables to the soil. Composting is a great way to provide some added nutrients and condition the soil. Fertilizers will give the plants just what they need to produce healthy fruit. Building your own composter can help you make use of any organic materials, as well as getting onto the journey to self-sustainment. I also add soil amenders to make my soil really healthy. Some of the amenders I use are:

You can purchase these items at a garden store, online or find a local source on Craigslist. I recently purchased 60 pounds of earthworm castings for twenty-five dollars. Not a bad deal, if you ask me.

3. Balance the amount of sunlight with the ideal temperatures. Who  knew gardening was a balancing act? But in order to get a good harvest, you have to balance to amount of sunlight your plan gets with the ideal temperature. If your garden or patio area receives full sun all day long, it can wreak havoc on your gardening endeavors. Keep in mind that plants need at least six to eight hours of sunlight to grow to their maximum potential. That said, the temperature plays a key role in plant health. Keeping plants between 70-90 degrees F will help the plants grow to their potential. Transplants especially will benefit from shade cloth. There are different percentages of shade cloth ranging from 25% – 70% or more. This will allow you block out the heat from the sun and help the plant thrive. All you need to do is drape the cloth over a support structure. Many gardeners use ladders, pvc hoop-style structures, or purchase products specifically manufactured to support shade cloth. Here are plans to build a shape canopy for the garden using pvc pipe. Read more here.

4. Regular waterings will prevent plant stress. Having an irrigation system in place with a timer will be less work for you and will ensure your plants are getting a balanced amount of moisture at each watering. This also will help you not over-water your plants which can be just as bad as not watering at all.

5. Protect the roots with mulch. Mulching the roots is a trade secret many successful gardeners use to protect the plant’s delicate root structures and prevent weeds from growing. You can use fallen leaves, straw, wood chips or newspaper to shade the roots. This will keep the roots moist and not stress the plant out during the warmest parts of the day. As well, the natural mulch will compost down over time and help your soil in the process.

 6. Talk to your plants. I know that I’m going to get some comments about how crazy I am for listing this, but I believe in talking to your plants. While there is no evidence to suggest that plants respond to affection, some plants do have a limited ability to communicate with one another. Though plants lack the ability to receive and process sound waves, evidence suggests that some plants can communicate with each other through the use of chemical signals. Additionally, vibrations that travel through the soil or in the air may have an effect on plant growth. It may be possible for plants to pick up on the vibrations created by human speech and maybe even by the chemical signals that humans release without knowing it.

7. Give your plants some friends. Many use companion planting in organic gardens to let nature do most of the work instead of chemicals. In theory, using this type of gardening, essentially creates an agroecosystem. Nothing goes to waste and everything is interdependent. The bi-products of these plants (dead heads, frail looking plants, etc.) can be used as soil conditioners. This makes for great efficiency and good use of space. Read more about which companion plants to use in vegetable, fruit and herb gardens.

Above all, visit your garden regularly. When you spend time in the garden, you will be less likely to neglect it. By following these simple laws of gardening, you can have a successful garden, year after year.



Tess Pennington is the editor for ReadyNutrition.com. After joining the Dallas chapter of the American Red Cross in 1999, Tess worked as an Armed Forces Emergency Services Center specialist and is well versed in emergency and disaster management and response. Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But by following Tess’s tips for stocking, organizing, and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months, or even years.

The Importance Of Organic Carpet Cleaners

Vacuum cleaner brush

Every time toxic cleaners are used, there’s a heavy impact on our environment. It does not matter whether the cleaners are poured, sprayed, washed, rinsed, or dumped; the harmful effects are the same. When we use these things we risk adding toxins to the air and to the water, both of which come back to us and are shared with the public. If you are not sure whether your cleaning products are harmful to you and the environment, take a look at the product labels to see the various types of chemical ingredients that are listed. What you find might surprise you!

Some products you may want to review are your carpet cleaners. For many of the cleaning needs today, there are healthier, organic alternatives for the usual toxic products. Carpet cleaners are no different. If you are concerned about this issue, and would like to use products that are healthier for you and the environment, consider switching to organic cleaning products. Organic carpet cleaners, for example, are generally dry cleaners that are much less harmful than traditional carpet cleaners.

Dangers of Non-Organic Carpet Cleaners

Most of the popular brands of carpet cleaners that are sold in stores can be quite harmful to us because they are made with chemical solvents that are very similar to the ones used by dry cleaners. The most common carpet cleaners give off powerfully strong odors that can aggravate a number of chronic respiratory conditions and allergies.

Some of the harmful ingredients that may be found in carpet cleaners include:

  • Pesticides
  • Disinfectants
  • Formaldehyde
  • Fragrances
  • Acids
  • Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)

These ingredients can cause endocrine issues, hormonal imbalance, and even infertility according to some studies. [1] In addition to these, there are a wide variety of additional compounds that are frequently found on product labels. It is helpful if you are aware of at least some of these potentially dangerous chemicals so you can avoid using them.

You’re Putting Toxic Chemicals on Toxic Materials

Carpets are often made of synthetic fibers and they’re treated with toxic chemicals that are hazardous to you and your family’s health. These carpets pose a threat to the families that have them installed as well as those who install them. Often times, those facing the greatest risks are infants, toddlers, and pets, which spend the most time breathing closest to the floor.

The following are some of the dangerous chemicals found in carpets in emissions tests:

  • Acetone
  • Benzene
  • Styrene
  • Hexane
  • Toluene
  • Formaldehyde
  • Caprolactam
  • Xylenes
  • Vinylcyclohexene
  • p-Dichlorobenzene

Many of these chemicals are carcinogenic. [2] If carpets are putting out these toxins, then people are surely breathing them in. Compound these chemicals with those in the cleanser formulas and you can begin to see the dangers present.

Why Should I Use Organic Carpet Cleaners?

Organic carpets don’t give off the noxious fumes that regular carpet can. Toxic fumes from carpet come from the synthetic fibers, the chemicals used in the manufacture, as well as the chemicals used to treat it. Your carpet padding can be treated with equally harmful chemicals. These toxic chemicals can cause allergic reactions in people and pets.

One of the main benefits of organic carpet cleaners is that they don’t pollute the air. Organic carpet cleaners are healthier for you and they’re healthier for our environment. Traditional carpet cleaners generally leave a concentrated vapor hanging in the air, which causes indoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution is a very serious concern, as it can cause sneezing, headaches, nausea, asthma attacks, irritation to the lungs, nose, and eyes, coughing, congestion, fatigue, and a host of other symptoms.

By using organic carpet cleaners, the potential for mold growth is greatly reduced. Since most organic cleaners are dry, the environment where mold spores readily sprout and flourish is minimized. Once mold develops in a carpet or carpet pad, it is nearly impossible to remove. The only alternative at that point is to replace all of it.

The most important point to remember is to be aware of the harmful chemicals that are typically found in commercially sold carpet cleaners, and make an effort to select organic carpet cleaners for the sake of your family’s health.

There are other alternatives that you can consider when you’re planning to have a greener home and work environment. For example, you could look into purchasing an organic carpet made with natural materials. A very safe carpet to purchase is one made of 100% natural wool fibers.

Carpet is not your only alternative for floor covering. Remember that alongside all-natural carpets made of wool or hemp, you can also elect to have natural wood flooring, not pressed or chipped board.

When you’re having new materials put on your floor, whether it’s wood, carpet, or some other beneficial covering, be sure to use proper backing; natural rubber is a good one. And then there’s the fixative. Sometimes the glue used can give off toxic fumes that linger for a long time after the flooring is installed. Check with your installer to make certain that he’s using the safest products for everyone.

One simple and effective product for deodorizing carpet between major cleanses is baking soda. You can sprinkle this dry substance freely over your carpet. Let is sit for as short as 30 minutes or as long as overnight; then vacuum. If you’ve ever used baking soda in your refrigerator, then you know how effective it is at removing odors. It can do the same for your carpet.

What to Consider When Cleaning Carpet

The best organic carpet cleaners are biodegradable and nontoxic. It is equally important to ensure a product’s packaging is made from 100% recycled material.

If you want your carpets to be professionally cleaned, you should know that there are professional organic carpet cleaners who specialize in natural cleaning of even the dirtiest carpets. If you have trouble locating professional organic carpet cleaners locally, try searching online to see if you can find one that is close to your area.

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Mehrpour O, Karrari P, Zamani N, Tsatsakis AM, Abdollahi M. Occupational exposure to pesticides and consequences on male semen and fertility: a review. Toxicol Lett. 2014 Oct 15;230(2):146-56. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2014.01.029.
  2. McMichael AJ. Carcinogenicity of benzene, toluene and xylene: epidemiological and experimental evidence. IARC Sci Publ. 1988;(85):3-18.

Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM has studied natural healing methods for over 20 years and now teaches individuals and practitioners all around the world. He no longer sees patients but solely concentrates on spreading the word of health and wellness to the global community. Under his leadership, Global Healing Center, Inc. has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural and organic health resources on the Internet.

 

Study: Eating Organic Limits Toxic Pesticide Exposure

organic food

Although they are extremely toxic, organophosphate pesticides remain some of the most commonly used insecticides today. A variety of fruits and vegetables are regularly treated with organophosphates, including green beans, apples, grapes, and peaches.

The Dangers of Organophosphate Pesticides

This highly toxic type of pesticide has been linked to numerous health problems, including reduced testosterone, leukemia, and Parkinson’s disease. Organophosphate pesticide exposure may also be associated with attention and developmental disorders in young children.

According to a recent study, adults may greatly reduce their exposure to organophosphates by eating organic produce. [1] The study found that people who eat organic, even occasionally, tend to have significantly lower levels of pesticides in their system.

To conduct the study, scientists gathered data on the dietary habits of more than 4,000 people living in different cities in the US. They collected information on the frequency with which participants reported eating organic foods, as well as the different types and amounts of produce eaten. To calculate pesticide exposure, scientists compared typical consumption of certain produce items with their average pesticide residue levels.

After collecting this data, they compared the calculated pesticide exposure to levels of pesticides found in the urine of participants. Participants who occasionally ate organic produce had significantly lower levels in their urine, while people who frequently or always ate organic typically had around 65 percent lower levels than participants who seldom or never ate organic.

The study only reconfirms existing theories about the benefits of eating organic fruits and vegetables to reduce pesticide exposure. This is particularly important for fruits and vegetables that typically are treated with more pesticides. Produce such as apples, strawberries, celery, grapes, and bell peppers tend to contain a lot of pesticides, while avocados, pineapples, and sweet corn are generally lower in pesticides.

How to Avoid Pesticides

Buying organic foods can be pricey, making it difficult for those on a smaller budget; however, going organic can be more affordable if you shop at local farmers markets, join a Community Supported Agriculture program, and purchase produce in season. While you can limit the amount of pesticides you are consuming through your diet, there are some pesticides that linger in the air. In this case, you may want to try methods for supporting your lungs.

References:

  1. Lindsey Konkel. Eating Organic Produce Can Limit Pesticide Exposure. Live Science.

Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM has studied natural healing methods for over 20 years and now teaches individuals and practitioners all around the world. He no longer sees patients but solely concentrates on spreading the word of health and wellness to the global community. Under his leadership, Global Healing Center, Inc. has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural and organic health resources on the Internet.

4 Reasons Why Your Children Will Love Organics

 girl-organic-sheets

By: Meggie Haneckow -

Every parent wants to buy and bring only the best of things for their children. From the time couples become new parents, they start thinking about a ‘good future’ for the baby. But it is tough to even think about a safe and sound environment in a world that is contaminated by chemicals to the core.

Our generation and the one before us have been nurtured by electronic gadgets and robots. While we believe that with every innovation the world is becoming a better place, is that true? Where is sustainability?

Thankfully, a number of us have realized that a sustainable environment is the best for our children. We need greener methods and techniques. We need more organic and less of chemicals. One of the best things happening today is the focus shifting towards ‘organic’.

From mattresses to wall paints to interiors to clothes – people are using organic as the base of everything. Women are opting for organic variety of cosmetics as well. But when it comes to kids, how can you make their life better with organic? Mentioned below are five reasons why your kid will love organic. Check these out and know in more detail why organic is the best choice for your kids:

  1. ORGANIC IS HYPOALLERGENIC IN NATURE: The first thing that you ought to know about organic bamboo bedding and comforters is that these are hypoallergenic in nature. This means that you can sleep worry-free that your children are not prone to allergies of skin and/or dust because they are sleeping on organic comforters.
  2. ORGANIC IS BED BUG RESISTANT: Another good reason why you should purchase organic bedding for your kids is that these sheets are bed bug resistant. Children are often scared of bed bugs; therefore, the idea of sleeping on comforters that are resistant to bed bugs appeals to them.
  3. ORGANIC IS COMFORTABLE: Clothes and comforters made out of bamboo and silk sheets are extremely soft and comfortable. Moreover, organic bedding has an amazing property of keeping the human body cool when it is warm outside and warm when it is cool outside. When your body temperature is normal, you sleep better. Also, organic material ensures that you don’t sweat excessively while asleep.
  4. ORGANIC TOYS ARE NON-TOXIC: If you have a 3 or 4 year old kid, you must always be on the lookout for newer toys for the little one. Here is the thing – do not go for the latest doll made out of plastic. There is nothing new about it other than the brand. Instead, buy your kid something that is for keeps. Toys made out of bamboo and other organic materials are safe for the kid. He or she will not be exposed to chemicals if he or she plays with organic toys.

These are four very important reasons why your kid will love the idea of growing up in as organic an environment as possible. It’s time you think about a better lifestyle seriously.

Sustainable Gardening: What To Do Before You Plant Your Seedlings

Corn-seedlings

To live more sustainably, I have a small garden bed in my backyard to grow food for my family. Although it isn’t as large as I would like it be and certainly could not grow a year’s worth of food, I am able to grow plenty of fresh vegetables to make sauces, salsas and salad ingredients. As well, I utilize my patio as a container garden to grow bush-type varieties in pots. Using the space I have to the best of its ability saves me money and, best of all, I have the satisfaction of knowing how my food is grown.

Getting My Seeds Started

To gear up for the garden season, I save lots of newspapers (one of my favorite items to keep on hand) ahead of time to use in the garden. I love the sheet-mulching or the lasagna gardening method, so I add lots of newspaper to my garden. As well, I use recycled newspaper to make seed pots. You can learn how to make your own, or use this handy device to secure the paper to make pots.

To keep the cost down on gardening, I make my own seed starting mix. I usually make my own compost. Here are 80+ items to add to your compost pile. This is the best recipe I have found:

  • 4 parts screened compost
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part vermiculite
  • 2 parts coir

Note: To keep the dust down, lightly moisten the ingredients before blending them thoroughly in a dishpan or wheelbarrow.

Place two or three seeds on the surface, and gently press the seeds down so they are nestled into the mix. If your seeds are very small, like basil or peppers, you can leave them uncovered. If your seeds are larger, like beans or peas, or they require darkness to germinate, cover them with a layer of vermiculite or seed starting mix equal to their height, usually 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch.

I usually start my seeds indoors in January to give them ample time to grow and establish their roots before I find their permanent homes in my outdoor garden. Rather than purchasing a Jiffy Pot Greenhouse kit each year, I have learned how to make my own. All you need is a used rotisserie chicken plastic container, plastic clamshells that previously held baked goods or even fast food salad containers. These are all great containers for creating a diy hot house for growing seeds. Ideally, you want to add drainage holes at the bottom of whichever container you use so that your seedlings do not sit idly in water, as this can cause root rot and molds grow.

Which Seeds to Grow

Determining when to start plants indoors depends on when the last frost typically occurs where you live, and then counting backward based on the type of plants you want to grow. The seeds I have chosen to grow early in the season are the ones that take between 60-90 days to mature. Seeds such as, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, melons, squash and herbs. As well, I am regrowing some of my food scraps to add to the garden once their roots are established.

If you are short on garden space, many of these varieties can be grown on the patio or deck. In fact, I have a very successful winter patio garden that I started where I grow spinach, lettuce, herbs and kale. These are great for patio gardens because they are shallow rooted, meaning they do not have large root systems that take up a lot of space – all you need is a deep garden pot. The following is a listing of plants that grow well in containers:

  • Tomatoes
  • Beans
  • Peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Mustard greens
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Radishes
  • Potatoes
  • Most herbs

Prepping the Garden Space

Initially, before you put the plants in the ground you need to prep your garden space. This will give you ample time to prepare your beds and condition and layer the soil. I use a lot of natural gardening methods that I have learned over the years.

1. Don’t work the soil too early.

This website discusses the dangers of working the soil too early. “Working the soil too early is a mistake. When the earth is still saturated with melting snow or spring rain, it is easily compacted by treading across it, or even worse, driving heavy equipment on it. In addition, large clumps of wet soil turned over at this time will only bake into impervious clods that will be very difficult to break up later…

How can you tell whether your garden has dried out enough to be worked? The truest test of soil condition is that age-old gesture of the gardener—fingering a handful of soil. Pick up about half a cup of earth in your hand. Now squeeze the soil together so that it forms a ball. If the ball of earth can readily be shattered by pressing with your fingers or dropping it from a height of 3 feet or so, it is dry enough to dig. If the ball keeps its shape or breaks only with difficulty into solid sections rather than loose soil, it still contains too much water. Clay soil that is too wet will feel slick when rubbed between thumb and forefinger. If it is very wet (75 to 100 percent moisture), the mass will be pliable, and a ribbon of earth can be drawn out and pressed with your finger. Working soil that wet can spoil its texture for the whole season.”

2. Clear debris.

Removing any leaves, pine needles or debris from the garden will ensure that your transplants will have the best living conditions and the soil will drain efficiently. Because many compost piles are short on carbon-rich materials, add the debris and items you remove into the compost pile.

3. Declare war against weeds.

Weeding now, while the weeds are still young and tender is the best time to remove. Waiting until their root systems have established and the weeds have grown will make it more difficult to remove. As well, by removing them now, you can add any additional soil amendments to make the soil more fertile. As well, you will want to “dead head” and clear dead foliage and add to the compost pile.

4. Repair beds, trellises or fencing. 

The high winds and heavy moisture from winter can damage garden beds, trellises and fencing. Repairing them now when there is less growth to work around and fewer roots to disturb. Doing so will help better protect your plants.

5. Top dress your beds.

The spring is the best time to add soil amendments. Resist the urge to dig the bed; established beds have a complex soil ecosystem which is best left undisturbed. Nutrients added from the top will work their way down into the soil. I usually add a of compostables (egg shells, paper, food scraps, bits of cardboard, etc.), then I add layers of soil amenders, add some water and leave the bed alone. Some of my favorite soil amenders are:

I usually mix these up together in a wheelbarrow and add them to the garden.

Living sustainably and starting a garden is economical and will help your children learn the essential skill of growing food as naturally as possible. In addition, it helps you use compostable items in the garden that you would otherwise throw away. Use these time-tested gardening tips will ensure your garden is a successful one.

Related Articles:

The No-Brainer Guide to Starting Seeds Indoors

Farmer’s Almanac Growing Calendar

Urban Gardening: Grow Anywhere


Tess Pennington is the editor for ReadyNutrition.com. After joining the Dallas chapter of the American Red Cross in 1999, Tess worked as an Armed Forces Emergency Services Center specialist and is well versed in emergency and disaster management and response. Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But by following Tess’s tips for stocking, organizing, and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months, or even years.

 

Dirty Dozen And Clean Fifteen (Infographic)

 fruits and veggies

By: Garrick |Juicing with G –

In this day and age, our environment is bombarded with pesticides from insect killers in our homes to pest killers that farmers use to ward off insects that could potentially devastate their crops. On a worldwide level over 5.6 billion pounds of pesticide is used per year and in the United States alone over 1 billion pounds of these pesticides is used by different industries – yes that includes farms that grow the vegetables and fruits we eat daily.

Pesticide has been linked in numerous studies to various types of ailments like infertility and cancer. And in children the danger is higher because their bodies don’t have fully developed immune systems just yet. Children exposed to pesticide are at risk of brain cancer, ASD, AD/HD and Endocrine disruption.

The dangers are real and we need to do our best to minimize pesticide exposure. One of the best ways to do that is using the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen to know which fruits and vegetables have the most and least amount of pesticide residue.

This is the infographic version that will show you the dirty dozen in an easy to understand format to help you shop smarter. When I say shop smart, that means not buying everything organic because that would be very expensive, shopping smart means that you’ll only buy organic for those items listed in the dirty dozen. For the rest, go for conventionally grown produce.

When you scroll down the infographic, you will find a bonus, 5 places where you can buy organic produce at cheaper price (compared to buying it in a grocery). Make sure to check that out.

 Dirty Dozen Infographic


Garrick is the founder of Juicing with G where he regularly shares recipes, health tips and product reviews that will help people navigate the world of juicing without making the same mistakes he did. You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

 

15 Winter Veggies You Should Be Eating Right Now

Winter-Vegetables-1

Ask anyone who’s not a gardener what’s in season right now.  Go ahead, I’ll wait here, because it won’t take long.

Did you get met with a blank stare and perhaps some mention of potatoes and onions? We’ve become so far removed from the land that most folks don’t even know what vegetables are in season this time of year. Because of our “food on demand” system, with food coming in from all corners of the globe, many people who don’t grow food have absolutely no idea what is growing on local farms right now.  We live in a country where it doesn’t seem outrageous to serve asparagus and pumpkin in the same meal, followed up with blueberries for dessert. The people who are slaves to the grocery store can’t even fathom what people eat when they enjoy a local, seasonal diet.

But…what would our ancestors think of that combination? It’s not even close to being realistic since asparagus hits its peak in the early spring, blueberries come along midsummer, and pumpkin pulls up the rear, stubbornly waiting to ripen until fall.

It’s far healthier to eat food that is actually in season.

When you demand produce that is out of season, it’s coming from across the globe.  This means that the items were picked before they were actually ripe, which means that the nutrients had not fully developed.  The vitamins and minerals contained in produce begin to decrease the minute the food is picked.  The harvested item immediately begins to die and decompose.  By the time the food arrives at your local grocery store, it might already be 3 weeks old – and sometimes it’s even older than that.

What’s more, the packing plants take great pains to be sure that the fresh fruits that grace your table mid-winter look pretty. Many packagers add a waxy, glossy coating to the produce before shipping. The coating not only looks shiny and inviting, it slows down the decomposition of the fruit or vegetable.  Some foods are sprayed with preservative chemicals, as well, to help them survive the arduous journey to your supermarket.

Reducing the distance your food travels isn’t the only health reason to eat seasonally.  Nature provides certain foods at certain times because that is when your body needs them the most.  They are also less likely to be drenched in pesticides, fertilizers and fungicides if the plants are growing as nature intended them too.

Right now, in the cold days of winter, you should consider eating more carbohydrates like those from root vegetables – they help the body to sustain a little more weight, which is needed to insulate against the cold weather.  Warming vegetables like potatoes, cabbages, carrots, onions, rutabagas, and winter squash all store well in cool, dark places, providing energy and comfort throughout the winter season.  Adding more fish to your diet during this time of year is also beneficial for the warming effect, the higher calories, and the high levels of vitamin D (the vitamin you get directly from the sun during the warmer months).  Vitamin D is important for good mental health and a strong immune system.  Nuts, which store well for the winter, are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids, which help moisturize your body from the inside out – this helps to fight that dry winter skin so many of us suffer from.

How do you prepare winter vegetables?

Hand some people a rutabaga and they’ll have no idea what to do with it. Probably one of the most common reasons that people pass on the winter vegetables is because they don’t know how to prepare them.  Invest in some great cookbooks for inspiration. I like Depression-era cookbooks for simple instructions on preparation, and there are some wonderful locavore cookbooks on the market that will teach you to turn these humble looking veggies into mouth-watering treats. These are 3 of my favorites.

What’s in season right now?

The wide variety of climates means that there’s no one “in-season menu” that will be applicable to everyone. I live in a very moderate climate, so I’ve still got some veggies growing, ever so slowly, in my garden. With a cold frame or greenhouse, you can extend your growing ability even more. As well, certain foods harvested in the late fall will store beautifully in the right conditions, keeping you nourished until spring goodies like asparagus and snow peas begin peeking out to tantalize you. If you don’t have the space or inclination to grow stuff yourself, you can visit your local farmer’s market for some in-season bounty.

Eating locally in the winter is easier than you might think.  You don’t have to go without fresh vegetables just because the snow is flying! Check out this infographic to learn what vegetables you should focus on right now.  Please share it with your friends, too!

(click infographic to enlarge)


Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States. She is the author of The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom. Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]

 

Edible Public Park Helps To Feed 200,000 People Every Year (VIDEO)

incredible-edible-farm-01

The Incredible Edible Park is a 7.5 acre public park that grows enough food, vegetables and fruits to feed 200,000 needy persons a year. Once a weeded, unused piece of land owned by the electric company is now a productive community garden. This auspicious endeavor was started as a collaborative effort from the city of Irvine to help feed those in need.

Perhaps, we can take some pointers from this video and look into ways of encouraging our own city or town to devote a park or two to growing food for the community. It would help others learn this valuable trade, as well as teach others about alternative gardening techniques. For instance, the irrigation system this parcel of land uses is based on a grey water system. Therefore, the city is not wasting drinking water, but using water that would otherwise be unused.

As the host of this video says so well, “People need to get connected with their food source. It doesn’t come from the grocery store, it comes from Mother Earth…”


Tess Pennington is the editor for ReadyNutrition.com. After joining the Dallas chapter of the American Red Cross in 1999, Tess worked as an Armed Forces Emergency Services Center specialist and is well versed in emergency and disaster management and response. Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But by following Tess’s tips for stocking, organizing, and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months, or even years.

 

10 Reasons To Choose Grass Fed Dairy Cheese

benefits_of_grass_fed_cows

Cheese is the ultimate snack for your family. Full of calcium and healthy fats, it’s convenient to pack in a lunch box or top a sandwich. But when you’re shopping for cheese for your family, there are a lot of choices: grass fed, organic and conventional. We tend to think that an organic product is better than conventional cheese, but is grass fed dairy cheese worth the additional cost? We think so. Here are the the top 10 reasons that organic cheese mad with grass fed dairy is a better choice for your family

1. No GMOs or Synthetic Pesticides and Herbicides Used in Organic Cow Feed or Pastures.

We’ve written before about the dangers of the glyphosate found in these products, as well as the potential dangers of GMOs. Grass fed and USDA Organic cows are not exposed to these toxins, so you can feel safer feeding organic cheese to your family.

2. No Growth Hormones (rBGH) Used on Organic Cows.

Those conventional dairy cows are usually given rBGH, a growth hormone that increases milk production. However, it also causes problems in the cows, including mastitis. According to Robyn O’Brien writing at BreastCancer.org, this condition is a painful infection that “causes cows to pump out bacteria and pus, along with milk.” Not only that, but rBGH produces a chemical that has been linked to breast cancer. Several states have passed bills preventing conventional milk farms that do not use rBGH from putting that on the label – meaning you have no way to know if it’s in your milk unless you buy organic. And how is mastitis treated? With antibiotics, of course.

Read more about what ‘grass fed’ actually means

3. No Antibiotics Used on Organic Cows.

Conventional dairy cows raised in large-scale farming operations are treated with antibiotics for both disease prevention and for promoting growth, rather than just for treating illness. A study published by the Stanford University School of Medicine in October, 2014 shows that this increased antibiotic usage may actually be spreading Salmonella bacteria among cows and livestock. The USDA Organic label guarantees that antibiotics cannot be used on an animal. If a cow does get sick, they can be treated with antibiotics but then must be removed from organic production.

4. Grain Fed Cows are More Susceptible to E. coli Outbreaks.

A cow’s system was not developed to digest grains, but grasses. Organic Consumers Association writer Jo Robinson explains that when cows eat grains instead of grass, their stomachs become more acidic and acid resistant bacteria begin to grow. In other words, it throws their gut out of balance making them vulnerable to E. coli food poisoning, which can get passed to human milk drinkers.

5. Less Frequency of Contagious Illnesses Among Grass Fed Dairy Cows.

When free-range dairy cows are farmed without antibiotics and rBGH and provided a high standard of animal welfare, that your milk is much safer from the dangers of Salmonella and other contaminants with risk factors for cancer and other illnesses.

6. Higher Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Benefits from Grass Fed Dairy Cows.

CLA is a beneficial fatty acid that has been linked to loss of body fat, as well as possibly preventing cancer. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health also shows that people with high concentrations of CLA had a lower risk of heart attack. While CLA is available in supplement form and in conventional milk, grass fed dairy cheese benefits from a naturally higher level of CLA, giving you a more potent bang for your caloric intake.

7. Increased Omega-3 Benefits from Grass Fed Dairy.

Studies show that grass fed dairy has higher concentrations of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart and brain. In fact, grass fed dairy may even boast a better Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio (4:1 or less, compared to 7:1 or more), according to this article at The World’s Healthiest Foods. These fatty acids are essential to the body and are healthy when properly balanced, but most Americans have too much Omega-6 in their bodies, putting their health in jeopardy.

8. More Nutrients in Grass Fed Dairy.

According to Prevention Magazine, another benefit of grass fed dairy is that it contains a bigger diversity of nutrients including vitamins A, D, and B-12. It also contains other vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants in addition to calcium and protein.

9. Grass Fed, Organic Farms Tend to Raise Cows Humanely.

Cows that are raised according to USDA organic standards and are grass fed are more likely to be treated humanely than cows from conventional dairy farms.

10. Grass Fed, Organic Cheese Tastes Better.

I know this is a matter of personal opinion, but as a long time cheese aficionado, I had all but given up on eating it. My kids are dairy free, and dairy free cheese is just unpalatable to me. I recently tried some organic grass fed cheese – and now I am hooked! Without all the processed nonsense that you can find in a conventional bar of cheese, organic grass fed cheese is hearty, delicious and smooth – a snack I no longer feel any guilt about.

Read more about cheese and how you might be addicted to it

The Verdict? Grass Fed Dairy is Better!

While most organic farmers in the U.S. struggle to maintain organic standards for their cows, that is not true in Europe. If you want to choose a cheese that you are sure is 100% GMO free and humanely raised, we recommend Kingdom Cheese. Grass fed as well as certified organic by both the USDA and the British Soil Association, Kingdom Cheese dairy cows are farmed the U.K., where GMO crops are prohibited. Kingdom’s farmers are also part of the largest organic cooperative in the U.K., which has strict standards of humane treatment for all farmed animals.

If you’ve forgone cheese for a long time, this may be your chance to welcome a healthier, safer option and experience the benefits of cheese made with organic, grass fed dairy. It never tasted so good!

Written by Gina Badalaty for Mamavation.

 

State Departments Of Agriculture Are Attempting To Regulate Seed Banks Out Of Existence

seed-banks
By: Cassius Methyl | The Anti-Media -

Last year, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture officials sent ‘a friendly letter’ to a seed bank/seed exchange group in Mechanicsburg, telling them they need to test every variety of seed with extremely impractical and pointless tests to ensure that they are up to standards with regulations.

‘Agri-Terrorism’ was cited by officials as a reason why such regulations should be enforced on something as natural as the right to exchange and possess seeds.

There are laws in every state regulating the possession and exchange of seeds. The actual enforcement of these laws is spotty, because a lot of law is actually too complex most often to even decode, and just about any crazy thing that was once written in law can be enforced if the law enforcement wants to. Also, who wants to enforce laws regulating and stifling such a productive, natural right?

“There’s almost no danger,” said John Torgrimson, the executive director of the Seed Savers Exchange. “This is not a risk to agriculture in any state. This is not a risk to our food supply.”

Pennsylvania is not alone in this fight. Regulators in Nebraska are also looking at local seed banks.

David Svik, the head of Nebraska’s ‘Seed Control Office’, says he will ‘see how to proceed’ with the many seed banks of the state who are not complying with regulations.

To quote a farmer from Nebraska on the issue, Betsy Goodman, on her opinion: “Regenerating your own seed is a human right.”

In other words, the recent development here is that Nebraska state bureaucrats are being paid to enforce laws that only benefit big agriculture and wish to proceed with severely limiting the ability for the people to do what they should fundamentally have a right to: collect and exchange seeds. They’re trying to proceed with enforcing regulations at any cost. This is fundamentally a move to help stifle the empowerment of these people with their agricultural practices.

Will there be a standoff? Will anyone be arrested, fined, or feel the force of the state over saving and trading seeds?

Hopefully we will not see the state inflict violence on peaceful people exercising their rights.

The only real ‘Agri-Terrorists’ that exist are corporations like Monsanto who influence laws like this, and bureaucrats paid to enforce and deal with the laws that inhibit people from taking action to be well off with their agriculture. It seems Big Agriculture corporations support these laws so that farmers will have to annually buy seeds that are patented GM or hybrid, instead of harvesting their own seeds to plant.

Maintaining our natural right to simply possess seeds and freely practice agriculture is something we absolutely need to do.

It’s an overall dangerous position for a society to be in, where most of us don’t know how to possess seeds, grow food, and survive without a Wal-Mart or Taco Bell. I think in the future this will become more painfully apparent, and people will start cultivating crops again. But when they do, will these Departments of Agriculture will try to stifle it with laws? We must be opposed to these laws to the fullest to guarantee our simple right to be prosperous.

Please share this with as many people as possible, as it’s fundamentally important to be aware of developments in bureaucratic efforts to stifle our natural, basic rights.


Cassius Methyl is a Writer, Activist for Voluntaryism, Experimental Musician / Artist, and the founder of record label/media site Irrelevant Paradigm Media ( www.IrrelevantParadigmMedia.com ) Irrelevant Paradigm Media can be found here on Facebook www.facebook.com/irrelevantparadigmmedia

Will There Soon Be Organic Fish?

fish

There’s organic produce, organic meat and dairy and organic poultry… but organic fish? There are reasons why you have not seen an organic sticker on a fish fillet – its virtually impossible to make fish truly organic. However, the USDA is planning to try.

In a planned move that will likely shake many consumers’ confidence in the organic label, the USDA is working on developing a new set or organic rules and guidelines for both wild and ocean-farmed fish.

While this seems like a great idea on the face of it, many experts agree that the environment that these fish are raised in, as well as the food they eat, cannot be thoroughly regulated. If you’re confused reading this article, because you’ve seen “organic salmon” at your local grocery store, we’re sorry to say you’ve been duped. Selling “organic” fish in the US is illegal, because of this lack of regulation.

So, why can’t fish be organic? Well as far as wild fish, they go where the please and eat what they please – it is impossible to ensure that these fish do not take in contaminants, and only eat an organic diet. Ocean fish farms cause marine pollution, and also pose risks to wild fish species, so they therefore cannot be organic.

One of the fish that the National Organic Program (NOP) is working on organic guidelines for is freshwater farmed fish. However, the guidelines are proving tricky, and may be quite lax, especially to start. For example, feeding guidelines would initially allow up to one quarter of the fishmeal to be conventionally-grown – though they do plan to scale back the number over the years.

Strangely, guidelines are also being discussed for wild and ocean-farmed fish – despite the counterintuitive nature of this discussion. According to the Center for Food Safety (CFS), “to allow either to be called organic puts the entire organics industry in jeopardy by weakening the integrity of the USDA label.”

The CFS is currently circulating a petition  specifically opposed to the “organic” labeling of ocean-farmed fish.

Urvashi Rangan of the Consumers Union told NPR’s The Salt, “they’re totally compromising the current United states standards [on organic certification].” We will keep you posted.

-The Alternative Daily

Sources:
http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/blog/3593/what-fish-cant-be-organic
http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/1881/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15015
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/11/19/246161040/can-a-fish-farm-be-organic-thats-up-for-debate

Carrageenan Makes Us Sick

carageenan

Independent research published this year from the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago reveals inflammatory responses to doses of carrageenan well below what an average person would likely consume in a day. Carrageenan continues to be allowed in organic foods thanks to corporate lobbying and industry-funded studies concluding its safety. Over 35,000 people have signed Cornucopia’s petition to the FDA, calling on them to remove this harmful ingredient from our food supply. The Cornucopia Institute plans to present the petition to the FDA in the new year. If you have not already signed on, please make your voice heard now.

Sign the petition.

Nationwide Organic Fraud Investigation Implicates USDA

Aurora Dairy, Stratford, Texas  18,000-head, gaming the system.

Aurora Dairy, Stratford, Texas 18,000-head, gaming the system. **Click images to enlarge.

CORNUCOPIA, WIS: In what has been called one of the largest fraud investigations in the history of the organic industry, The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, announced filing formal legal complaints against 14 industrial livestock operations producing milk, meat and eggs being marketed, allegedly illegally, as organic.

After years of inaction by the USDA, Cornucopia contracted for aerial photography in nine states, from West Texas to New York and Maryland, over the past eight months. What they found confirmed earlier site visits: a systemic pattern of corporate agribusiness interests operating industrial-scale confinement livestock facilities providing no legitimate grazing, or even access to the outdoors, as required by federal organic regulations.

A photo gallery of the apparent abuses by the giant certified organic operations in question can be found at http://www.cornucopia.org/organic-factory-farm-investigation.

“The federal organic regulations make it very clear that all organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and that ruminants, like dairy cows, must have access to pasture,” said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute. “The vast majority of these massive, industrial-scale facilities, some managing 10,000-20,000 head of cattle, and upwards of 1 million laying hens, had 100% of their animals confined in giant buildings or feedlots.”

The family-scale farmers who helped commercialize the organic food movement starting in the 1980s did so, in part, because agribusiness consolidation and control of the food supply was squeezing profit margins and forcing farmers off the land. Consumers enthusiastically made organics a rapidly growing market sector by supporting farmers and processors that were willing to produce food to a different standard in terms of environmental stewardship, humane animal husbandry, and economic fairness for farmers.

“Shoppers, who passionately support the ideals and values represented by the organic label, understandably feel betrayed when they see photos of these massive CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) masquerading as organic,” Kastel added.

The organization recommends consumers consult Cornucopia’s organic brand scorecards so they can choose from the many organic brands that partner with farmers and that truly deliver on the promise of better environmental stewardship, humane animal husbandry, and economic justice for the families who produce organic food.

“Many of our dairy farmer-members have animals, they truly care for, that have names, not numbers,” Kastel added.

Delta Egg in Chase, Kansas,  100,000-hens per building, none outdoors.

Delta Egg in Chase, Kansas, 100,000-hens per building, none outdoors.

Cornucopia filed their first legal complaints against these industrial operations, with varying degrees of success, beginning in 2004. As a result, the largest dairy supplying the Horizon label (now controlled by WhiteWave Foods) was decertified, and the USDA placed sanctions against Aurora Dairy (producing private-label organic milk for Walmart, Costco, Target and various supermarket chains). Both WhiteWave and Aurora are still being investigated by the USDA for improprieties.

But the wheels of justice, according to Cornucopia, are now turning slowly or not at all. One example is Arizona-based Shamrock, which operates a vertically-integrated dairy in the desert outside of Phoenix that jointly manages over 16,000 organic and conventional cows. The USDA eventually confirmed the basis of a complaint filed in 2008 by the nonprofit public interest group, finding the dairy operating illegally — but not until 2011, three years after the complaint was filed. Now, more than six years later, Shamrock still has a pending appeal and is still selling milk in the Southwest undercutting ethical farmers and competitors that comply with federal organic law.

“The inaction by the USDA places thousands of ethical family-scale farmers, who are competing with a couple of dozen giant dairies, at a competitive disadvantage,” said Kevin Engelbert, a New York-based dairyman, milking 140 cows who, along with his family, was the first certified organic dairy producer in the U.S.

The Cornucopia Institute website maintains research-based scorecards rating all organic eggs, dairy products, soy foods, and several other food categories for their adherence to organic ideals, with the stated goal of “empowering consumers and wholesale buyers in the marketplace — accessing authentic food and rewarding the true heroes in the industry.”

Engelbert, who also previously served on the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), stated, “When serving on the NOSB, I was always reminded that the recommendations we made to the National Organic Program (NOP) had to be scale-neutral. I would like to see the Organic Food Production Act enforced on a scale-neutral basis as well.”

With enforcement of neither the letter of the law nor the intent, many traditional organic dairy farmers are in financial stress right now, with some selling their cows and exiting the industry. “Allowing these illegal dairies to continue to operate is a travesty and significantly undercuts the supply-demand dynamic that should be rewarding farmers in the marketplace and providing a decent living for our families,” Engelbert added.

Although Cornucopia was critical of the USDA’s operation of the National Organic Program (NOP) during the Bush administration, it says it finds the current conduct of the Obama administration even more “insidious.” Engelbert, Cornucopia’s board vice president, continued, “The so-called ‘Age of Enforcement’ the organic community was promised, when the new administration took over in 2009, has been anything but with regard to large-scale ‘organic’ operations breaking the law.”

During the Bush years the USDA was charged as being hostile to organic interests delaying the implementation of the law and then being recalcitrant in carrying out the will of Congress by enforcing the standards.

“Since President Obama was elected they’ve greatly expanded the budget of the NOP, added competent staff, and said all the right things,” lamented Kastel. “These people know better, but they have sided with the powerful industry lobby, the Organic Trade Association, and institutionalized corruption that started before their administration took office.”

In the chicken industry the USDA has allowed corporate agribusiness to confine as many as 100,000 laying hens in a building, sometimes exceeding 1 million birds on a “farm,” and substituting a tiny screened porch for true access to the outdoors.

Herbruck's in Saranac, Michigan,  85,000-hens per building and none outdoors.

Herbruck’s in Saranac, Michigan, 85,000-hens per building and none outdoors.

The loophole, “porched-poultry,” was first allowed in 2002 when the NOP director overruled organic certifiers and allowed The Country Hen, a Massachusetts egg producer, to confine tens of thousands of birds in a barn with an attached porch that might, at best, hold 5% of the birds in the main building.

The USDA staff person running the organic program at the time later waltzed through what is commonly referred to as “the revolving door,” between regulators and the industry, and went to work as a consultant for The Country Hen lobbying against outdoor access standards for poultry.

“Quite frankly, even if Miles McEvoy, who currently directs the NOP, believes that a porch, with a floor, ceiling and screened walls, constitutes ‘the outdoors,’ if only 5% of the birds have access or can fit in that space, then 95% of the others are being illegally confined,” Cornucopia’s Kastel stated.

McEvoy and the USDA’s National Organic Program have been a lightning rod for criticism, not just on their alleged inaction against illegal livestock operators but for recently changing the oversight responsibilities of the NOSB, a citizen advisory panel, and undermining powers bestowed upon it by Congress that severely restrict the use of synthetic and non-organic inputs and ingredients in the production of organic food.

In late 2013, McEvoy broke with 20 years of precedent and, unilaterally, stripped the NOSB of the ability to create their own work plans and set their agenda for addressing concerns in the organic industry. The USDA also fundamentally weakened the “sunset” procedures that require the review of synthetic and other non-organic ingredients in organic foods every five years.

“The current situation, applauded by the industry’s most financially powerful interests, and almost universally condemned by nonprofits representing farmers and consumers, is untenable,” said Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides and a current Obama administration appointee to the 15-member NOSB. “Someone needs to take responsibility for the divide in this industry which has begun seriously undercutting the credibility of the organic label and the livelihoods of ethical organic farmers.”

Some industry observers contend that even more important than organic farms and marketers adhering to the letter of the law, is meeting the expectations of consumers who are willing to pay a premium for food produced to a higher standard. Significantly, Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, recently downgraded the value of the organic seal from its highest rating due to their concerns about recent attempts by the USDA to undermine the power and independence of the NOSB.

“It is hard for us to discern whether the current policy failures start or end with Mr. McEvoy,” said Kastel. “But it’s time for someone to take responsibility and, sadly, we think an individual who is widely respected, and viewed as neutral at this point, needs to be brought in to clean up this mess.”

MORE:

The factory farms that Cornucopia has filed complaints and a link to the actual complaints include:

Aurora Coldwater
Aurora Dublin
Burns Poultry (Herbruck’s)
Bushman Farms (Organic Valley)
Delta Egg Farm
Green Meadow (Herbruck’s)
Hilltop LLC – Boehning Dairy
Horizon Dairy (WhiteWave)
Idalou Egg Ranch
• Kreher’s
• Natural Prairie
• Raymond Facility
• Redland Dairy
• Smart Chicken

A photo gallery of the apparent abuses by the giant certified organic operations in question can be found at http://www.cornucopia.org/organic-factory-farm-investigation.

There is nothing in the federal organic standards pertaining to the size of any given operation.

“The organic standards are scale-neutral,” said Kastel. “However, if properly enforced the standards are scale-limiting. At some point the magnitude of these operations becomes preposterous — because their practical ability to meet minimum organic and humane livestock standards becomes impossible.”

Just like the debate over the farm bill, where limiting payments to large-scale operations has never gained traction with either political party, the problems in the organic industry appear to be bipartisan in nature.

“Follow the money,” said Kastel. “Although the food industry pretty much ignored organics when Congress passed the enabling legislation, as part of the 1990 farm bill, now that giant corporations like General Mills, Smucker’s, Kellogg, and WhiteWave have massive investments in organic pioneering brands, their lobbyists are all over the USDA making sure that the decisions that come out of the agency favor their preferred industrial model of food production.”

The prominent infographic, Who Owns Organics, can be accessed on the Cornucopia website: http://www.cornucopia.org/who-owns-organic/.

Peer-reviewed published research indicates clear nutritional advantages in consuming milk and meat from cattle that are grazed on fresh grass, including elevated levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Eggs and chickens from birds that are allowed, as the law requires, to engage in their instinctive behaviors as omnivores in foraging on grass and insects, produce eggs that are coveted as being more nutritious and more flavorful.

“We keep expanding our flock but still can’t keep up with demand,” said Cameron Molberg, a certified organic egg producer who rotates 19,000 birds on pasture near Austin, Texas. “We are proving that this model can be highly successful in the marketplace.” Just as the Bush administration was accused of dragging out enforcement against mega-dairies, many of which were later found to be scofflaws in terms of not grazing their animals, and instead pushing them for high production in confinement, the Obama administration has allowed factory farms producing organic eggs to flourish during its tenure.

“The department’s claim that it needs more detailed regulations, specifying minimum amount of space outdoors, before they can enforce the law, is a specious argument,” Cornucopia’s Kastel affirmed. “If it was a question of whether or not these outfits were affording enough outdoor space to their birds, that would be one thing, but these are confinement operations with no, I mean zero, animals outside. They are flagrantly breaking the law!”

In addition to the published regulations, USDA Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy issued a Policy Memorandum, on January 31, 2011, clearly stating, in terms of access to “outdoors,” that producers must provide livestock with “an opportunity to exit any barn or other enclosed structure.” Cornucopia contends that this memo clearly suggests that enclosed porches (“structures”) do not meet the legal requirements for access to the outdoors but the USDA has been unwilling to enforce their clear interpretive statement.

Cornucopia contends that consumers, who rightly assume that the animals producing their food are being treated respectfully, and consequently resulting in higher quality food, are being taken advantage of in the marketplace.

The widely respected and nationally prominent organic dairyman, Kevin Engelbert, chimed in when addressing the controversy regarding chicken production with, “If you think a porch represents true access to the outdoors, when your children or grandchildren ask to play outside allow them to do so, but note their response when you say they have to stay on the porch.”

In the case of the Horizon dairy in Paul, Idaho (WhiteWave), instead of the USDA sending its own agents to investigate complaints against the operation, the USDA sent in the same certifier that initially approved the operation to investigate alleged improprieties.

“This is just unconscionable,” said Kastel. “In this instance, the certifier, Quality Assurance International, has been implicated in a number of other improprieties. Our thorough investigation and legal complaint indicated this dairy, with no pasture, never should have been certified in the first place. The job of the USDA is to oversee the certifiers and ensure that they are doing their job. It is quite possible that, in this case, there could have been a conspiracy and/or negligence that the certifier was responsible for.”

“Although the organic oversight system can, to say the least, be improved, there are few alternatives in the commercial food stream if consumers, especially parents, want to avoid agrochemical and drug residues in their food and provide superior nutrition for their families,” said Kastel. “That’s where it becomes imperative that farmers and their customers work together to maintain the integrity of the organic label. In the meantime, Cornucopia’s scorecards provide guidance enabling shoppers to reward the true heroes in this industry.”

Fore more information visit The Cornucopia Institute.

 

Organic Food Is Healthier By Far, Finds Study After Study

organic veggies

Organic food is healthier than conventional food by a long way, many studies are now showing. There are two main reasons why: pesticides and nutrients. Conventionally produced food is sprayed with numerous forms of pesticides, from insecticides to herbicides to fungicides and more. In large scale agriculture, these pesticides are petrochemical derivatives. In other words, they are made from industrial chemicals which are powerful and dangerous enough to kill bugs and mold, but which can also cause you serious illness if they end up in your body – which they do, since most food which is sprayed absorbs the pesticides. Since humans are at the top of the food chain, there’s no way we can easily avoid these hazardous pesticides when eating conventional food.

The other reason why organic food is healthier than pesticide-laden produce is simple (and linked to the first): organic food has higher nutrient content. Spraying food with industrial pesticides may help prevent a plant from being eaten by a certain insect, but it also damages the plant to some degree. This then is reflected by the plant having lower nutrient levels, since some of its phytochemicals (plant chemicals, e.g. vitamin C) are quite fragile and can be easily damaged by synthetic pesticides.

It is refreshing to see researchers pursuing scientific proof that organic food is healthier, to settle the question once and for all. Below are some of the top studies done on the subject, all of which came to the conclusion that organic food is healthier than its conventional counterpart due to its being higher in antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, minerals and other critical nutrients.

Organic Food is Healthier #1: Study entitled “Nutritional Quality of Organic Versus Conventional Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains”, 2001

This study analyzed organic and conventional fruit, vegetables and grains, and measured more iron, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin, C, as well as less nitrates, in organic crops as compared to conventional crops. On average, spinach had 52% more vitamin C, cabbage had 41% more iron and lettuce had 29% more magnesium! Additionally, it also discovered various trends, namely that organic food had less but better quality protein, more nutritionally significant minerals, and lower amounts of some heavy metals (e.g. lead), another great reason to choose organic over conventional.

Organic Food is Healthier #2: Study entitled “Organic Agriculture and Food Utilization”, 2007

This study came to several conclusions. One was that organic food had far fewer pesticide residues, with “the levels in organic products … consistently 4 to 5 times lower than in conventional products”. The study went on say that “pesticide poisoning causes some 20,000 deaths per year globally and an average of 11 days wages lost due to illness, per farmer per incidence, in some areas. Even symptom-free workers often exhibit biomarker changes indicating increased risk of diseases, including Parkinson’s disease.” Another finding was that plants grown organically had better defense mechanisms, and thus fared better after harvesting and during transport and storage. Also, the study mentioned that “epidemiological studies have shown better health scores among consumers of organic food for immunological characteristics and weight control, and similar benefits have been reproduced in animal studies, supporting a possible causal role of the food production system.”

Organic Food is Healthier #3: Study entitled “Fruit and Soil Quality of Organic and Conventional Strawberry Agroecosystems”, 2010

This study found that “organic farms had strawberries with longer shelf life, greater dry matter, and higher antioxidant activity and concentrations of ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds.” Although taste is a subjective thing, the study also reported that “sensory panels judged organic strawberries to be sweeter and have better flavor, overall acceptance, and appearance than their conventional counterparts.”

Organic Food is Healthier #4: Study entitled “Higher Antioxidant, Lower Cadmium Concentrations and Lower Incidence of Pesticide Residues in Organically Grown Crops”, 2014

Finally, this recent study concluded that organic crops are up to 60% higher in key antioxidants than conventionally grown crops. The research team analyzed 343 studies dealing with the differences between organic and conventional crops, and showed that by switching to eating organic fruit, vegetable and grains, you can get additional antioxidants equivalent to eating between 1-2 extra portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Incredible!

It’s Obvious: Organic Food is Healthier

organic-food-less-expensive-than-cancer

It’s common sense that food sprayed with pesticides and other harmful chemicals will damage the plant, thus affecting its nutritional profile and overall health benefits. It’s good to see more and more studies being done showing the science is also bearing out this truth. Personally, I eat 100% organic wherever possible; it is somewhat more expensive (but not always), but how can you put a price on your health? Would you rather save a few bucks in the short term, only to have some pesticide or chemical-casued illness in the future, for which you may pay dearly?


Makia Freeman is the editor of The Freedom Articles and senior researcher at ToolsForFreedom.com, writing on many aspects of the global conspiracy, from vaccines to Zionism to false flag operations and more, and also including info on natural health, sovereignty and higher consciousness.

Health Benefits Of Raw Honey

Raw-organic-honey

Honey is one of nature’s premier superfoods. Not only does honey taste good in tea, yogurt, baked goods etc. but it has been a staple anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory since ancient times. Even modern practitioners swear by its miraculous healing properties.

Top 5 Health Benefits of Raw Organic Honey

1. Honey Kills Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

In the world of medicine, few things can be scarier than bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, but that’s exactly the problem that modern medicine faces. Over the past fifty years, over-use of anti-bacterial drugs, like Azithromycin, have encouraged harmful bacteria to evolve and become stronger. But there’s no bacterium anywhere that’s resistant to honey! That’s right, honey can kill even antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Ancient people applied it to wounds, infections, and abscesses to great effect. Just make sure you use raw organic honey, which doesn’t include high-fructose corn syrup or white sugar that lower its quality and beneficial effects.

2. Soothes Coughs

In addition to killing bacteria, honey can reduce the severity of coughs and sore throats more safely than over-the-counter medications. This is another example of a traditional remedy that turns out to be more effective than mass-produced drugs by pharmaceutical companies. While adult cough medicines might be dangerous for children to take, raw honey helps lessen the frequency and intensity of a child’s cough, letting parents and kids alike get more sleep during cold season.

3. Boosts Wound and Burn Healing

Believe it or not, honey sterilizes and heals burns in half the time than its over-the-counter antibiotic competitor silver sulfadiazine. It can disinfect wounds the same way, allowing your body to regenerate faster and with less risk of infection or scarring. If you receive an injury, smear honey on the affected area immediately. Don’t worry about using too much, because with honey, there’s no such thing. When you’re done, apply a bandage over your wound. Repeat this procedure at least once every 48 hours to make sure that you’re not getting an infection (though odds are good that you won’t.)

4. Provides Many Nutrients

Unsurprisingly, honey offers a staggering amount of nutritional value. (Remember, this is the stuff that bees build their entire colonies upon!) Aside from various nutrients, like riboflavin, folate, betaine, manganese, potassium, copper, zinc, calcium, magnesium, selenium, fluoride and phosphorus, honey is loaded with antioxidants, which can lessen the risk of cancer. It also lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and generally reduces inflammation. Of course, if you have a sweet tooth, one benefit trumps all the others on this list…

5. Raw Organic Honey is the Perfect Sugar Substitute

As if the health benefits of honey weren’t enough on their own. Honey can play another important part in your well-being by sweetening your tea, cookies, pancakes and other baked goods you prepare. Though honey itself is made of fructose, it raises blood sugar far lesser than similar-tasting substances, like sucrose and dextrose. Honey has a healthy Glycemic Index, which means its sugars can be gradually absorbed into the blood stream to result in better digestion. Best of all, you can keep honey on the shelf forever, because it never spoils. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s pretty sweet.

Raw Honey Has Many Health Benefits

There’s a lot that honey can do to improve your active life and diet. It’s a great pre-exercise food, for example, because it’ll give you the power you need and you won’t crash in the middle of your training session. The healing powers of honey don’t just apply to skin wounds – they can help heal painful stomach ulcers, too! Fans of probiotics love honey because it hosts good bacteria, including lactobacilli, which help us digest food. There’s even evidence that honey consumption boosts memory in menopausal women and increase the body’s ability to recover from drunkenness. Old time medical practitioners knew the secrets of honey before science discovered them. Today, there are many good reasons to add this incredible food to your diet!

[via Organic Power Foods]