Category Archives: Organics

Buying Local Honey: What You Need To Know

local honey

One of my favorite long-term food choices in our pantry is honey. Storing honey is a popular choice amongst preppers. After all, its versatility coupled with the capacity to last a lifetime is a perfect investment for your long-term food stores. Many are aware of the additives put into honey and ultra-filtering that inevitably removes all of the health benefits it possesses in its natural state. In fact, recent laboratory tests have revealed that 76% of the honey purchased in common chain grocery stores has been ultra filtered.

Why Buy Local?

Buying locally will ensure you get the purest form of honey around. As well, purchasing in bulk quantities will help you add to your natural prepper pantries and save a buck at the same time. When raw honey is left in its natural state and is unfiltered, it contains pollen, enzymes, antioxidants and many other beneficial compounds that researchers are just beginning to learn about.

honey vs raw honey

Benefits of Raw Honey

  • Has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.
  • Due to its low water content, it’s a poor environment for the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • Acts a cough suppressant and soothes a sore or scratchy throat.
  • Boosts immunity, and protects against infections in wounds.
  • May improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity.
  • Contains phytonutrients, which have been shown to possess cancer-preventing and anti-tumor properties.
  • Honey from certain flower sources contain friendly bacteria that are good for digestion.
  • Minor source of vitamins B2 and B6, copper, iron, manganese.

Where to Find Local Honey

A few years ago, I was lucky to find a local honey supplier in my area that sells us 20 pound buckets of honey. For a family of five, (see food calculator here) this is enough honey for a year for my family. We usually end up purchasing one to use for the year and another for long-term storage. I have found that scouting out local farmers markets can put you in direct contact with local beekeepers who are more than willing to sell you honey on a regular basis. As well, they have other great products they can sell you like bee pollen, beeswax, royal jelly, and even a beehive, if you are interested. Additionally, farmers markets are great for finding local produce, meat and other food sources. I have also found beekeepers selling honey through Craigslist.

What to Ask Local Honey Suppliers

Today, I wanted to share some tips with you about buying and locating local honey sources. If you plan on purchasing honey from a local supplier, make sure they can answer these questions:

  1. What are the kinds of flowers the bees have been foraging on? Knowing the kind of flowers that the bees used for nectar and pollen will give you a good indication of how robust the flavor of the honey will be.
  2. Do they mix the honey with any additives? Purity of honey is another issue the USDA does not look into when giving out their sacred “USDA organic labels.” Most store-bought honey isn’t even honey at all. It’s a combination of additives like sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup (check your maple syrup too, folks!) to make it more honey-like. An advantage to buying from local honey sellers is that they sell a far superior product compared to the honey you purchase in stores. Not only is local honey in more of a pure state, but you have more of a variety that is unavailable in supermarkets. There are tests that you can do to test your honey. Learn about honey purity laws here.
  3. Has the honey been filtered to remove pollen? Many honey companies filter their honey to remove any minute particles, pollen and bits of honeycomb. Unfortunately, when companies ultra-filter their honey, they force the proteins out of honey removing the natural health properties in the process. The result is a clearer honey that companies market as healthy, when in reality, ultra-filtered honey does not have many health benefits at all. Most local suppliers skip this step and keep the honey pure.
  4. Is it organic honey? I added this because I wanted to inform you all that it is very difficult to find real 100% organic honey. In fact, it’s near to impossible! Honeybees fly an average of 2 miles from their hives in their search for nectar and pollen. A hive would have to be in the center of a minimum of 16 square miles of organic plants. This is extremely difficult to do considering there are neighbors, golf clubs, businesses, etc. who still believe in chemically treating lawns and gardens with pesticides. Wild plants sound good but there could be an issue there if the hives are near any land where herbicides are used, including BLM land. So, here’s the fact on organic honey: There are no standards for USDA certified organic honey. They simply do not exist. According to the USDA Rules and Regulations, “…honey does not require official inspection in order to carry official USDA grade marks and since there are no existing programs that require the official inspection and certification of honey,…” So the organic honey you are purchasing at the store is only a ploy to inflate the price and make more money.

Buying locally is your best bet in taking steps to buy the purest form of honey and create a natural prepper pantry. If you decided to purchase honey at the grocery store, make sure you purchase raw unfiltered honey. I have been purchasing local honey for years and have only had one container crystallize; and that was a year after I purchased it. Use these tips when looking for local honey sources.


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.

Where To Find Natural Building Materials

Wooden-framing

Whether you’re looking into building your dream home or simply want to renovate a specific area of your home or office, using green building materials is the best way to create an environment that isn’t detrimental to your health. Organic, natural, and eco-friendly building materials from reputable, trusted suppliers is a must for protecting your health from the endocrine disruptors found in conventional building supplies.

Where to Find Organic Building Materials

Many building materials today contain things like formaldehyde, VOCs, and fire retardants, all of which can disrupt hormone function. While building materials don’t have the same organic certification process as food, it is possible to find paint, adhesives, and other materials made with organic or natural ingredients. Here’s a list of the most common building materials you will need, along with suppliers you can trust.

Organic/Natural Sheetrock

Also referred to as drywall, sheetrock is necessary for making the interior of walls. Finding natural and eco-friendly alternatives is a bit easier in this day and age, and luckily many builders are popping up all over the place offering these options. Here’s a quick list of the best suppliers for natural sheetrock:

EcoRock, made from 85% industrial byproducts, 100% recyclable.
Durra Panel is an eco-friendly sheetrock made from wheat or rice straw fibres, contains no formaldehyde.
JetBoard, made in Texas, recently released in the US.

Organic/Natural Glue

Glue and adhesives are necessary every step of the way when you’re building, yet some can give off toxic fumes. Here’s a list of the top-selling natural adhesives you can use in your projects:

ChemLink is a leading solvent-free and VOC-compliant sealant that can safely be used for constructing a healthy indoor environment.
EcoBond is another popular adhesive earning points from environmentalists and health advisors.
Capco Adhesives are also eco friendly and low in toxic compounds.

Organic/Natural Paints

Whether you’re painting the outside of your house, your living room, or wooden furniture, you should always use lead-free, VOC-free, natural paints as much as possible. Here’s some suppliers you can look into:

Ecos Paints sell no odor, VOC-free paint for interior use.
Auro Natural Eco Paints uses zero petrochemicals, VCOs, and only organic linseed oil in their products.
Green Pant Paints is another interior paint company, selling paints that use plant-based ingredients.

Organic/Natural Grout

Not only is grout used during construction, it’s commonly used in the maintenance of buildings. Here’s some natural grout solutions:

Eco Bath Tup and Tile
Eco Grout
Eco Systems Grout

Organic/Natural Sheetrock Mud

Sheetrock mud is also referred to as ‘drywall joint compound’ and is used to seal joints between sheets of drywall. Here’s some hypo-allergenic choices you can use:

Keim, works best with JetBoard or Dragonboard as a joint compound.
Murco Wall, do not use as a joint compound.

Organic/Natural Thinners

Paint thinners are commonly tainted with chemicals, most notably VOCs. Here’s a list of reliable, healthier alternatives:

Solvent-Free Paint thinner is made from 100% purified linseed oil.
Real Milk Company uses organic citrus solvents as a natural paint thinner.
Eco-Solve is a paint thinner made with soy and is non toxic.

Organic/Natural Caulking

While caulking doesn’t typically present a dire health concern, the PCBs found in conventional caulking materials can be hazardous over time. Here’s a couple of sources of caulking without the endocrine disruptor:

SafeCoat Multi-Purpose Caulk is non toxic and good for the environment.
Eco-Bond has a 10 year mold-free guarantee and is low in VOCs.

Natural/VOC-free Concrete Sealants

Most concrete sealants contain VOCs, which interfere with the immune system. Here are the top VOC-free concrete sealants:

Seal Green provides concrete sealants made with green ingredients.
DurasealZero™¨is made by Enviroseal, and uses natural ingredients that are EPA approved. No VOCs.
Conkrete-Seal by AgraLife is a natural, VOC-free concrete sealant.

Organic / Natural Ceiling Tiles

Formaldehyde a toxic poison that is commonly added to conventional ceiling tiles. Here’s a couple of suppliers for ceiling materials that do not use chemicals:

Armstrong is one of the leaders in providing sustainable ceiling tiles for office buildings.
Sustainable Ceiling Resource Center provides information and products related to healthy ceiling products.

Got a favorite that I missed? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.


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.

Dear Farmers: U.S. Is Now Importing Organic Corn To Satisfy Consumer Demand

corn

By: Heather Callaghan | Activist Post –

There are three things driving a surge in organic imports:

  1. U.S. farmers have been systematically pushed into growing mostly GMO crops; grown primarily for fuel, animal feed and cheap processed foods. Russia even used our food supply as an example for the EU to dump us and join them instead.
  2. U.S. consumers are not only demanding fresh, organic produce as well as non-GMO convenience foods – but also want meat, dairy and eggs from animals that were fed non-GMO or organic feed.
  3. Other countries primarily grow non-GE crops, and plenty of organic. They’ve got the goods and they reap the benefits of trade.

This is ridiculous, as the U.S. could not only use a valuable export, but could honestly use a supportive, in-house product. Yet again, we find ourselves outsourcing for staples. Shouldn’t our own farmers be benefiting from this rise in demand coming from their country? Yet again, farmers have been tricked and kicked by the very companies with which they sign agreements.

U.S. consumers are coming into awareness about how their food affects their health and want superior products, which sadly, aren’t always available here…yet.

An analysis of U.S. trade data released Wednesday by the Organic Trade Association and Pennsylvania State University shows a spike in corn from Romania and soybeans from India. The chief executive officer of OTA is prompting farmers that the market is open for converts. She called it a “help-wanted” sign for farmers and said, “There are market distortions that are pretty striking.” [Also see: Study Quantifies Market Value of Nature’s Farming Services]

organic corn supplies
Bloomberg Business reports the bulk of the imports are to feed U.S. cattle and poultry:

As a result, imports to the U.S. of Romanian corn rose to $11.6 million in 2014 from $545,000 the year before. Soybean imports from India more than doubled to $73.8 million.

Sales of foods certified by the U.S. as free of synthetic chemicals or genetic engineering reached $35.9 billion in 2014, an 11 percent increase over 2013 and about 5.1 percent of U.S. grocery spending. The organic sector’s average annual growth of about 10 percent is triple that of overall food sales, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture and trade association data.

[…]

The four years of records show rapidly growing trade relationships. In 2014, U.S. organic exports were $553 million, almost quadruple the 2011 total. Imports last year were $1.28 billion, led by $332.5 million of organic coffee.

Supply farms were forced to seek foreign sources with the rapid demand spikes, as 90 percent of U.S. corn and soy are genetically engineered, a definite no-go for organically raised animals, animal by-products and produce. Some organic feed companies have recently seen sales quadruple and sought supplies from Canada. Read Bloomberg for more figures and some tug-of-war about future markets and whether or not it’s worth it to grow organic in America.

And interesting turn of events since yesterday’s Bloomberg report: Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture announced that the government would offer support to boost the U.S. production of organic.

While expressing an interest to help small family farms and boost the rural economy, he told Reuters:

There’s been significant expansion and interest in organics. Both the number of producers expanding and the sales expanding are an indication that this is a fast-growing aspect of agriculture.

A peculiar announcement considering Vilsack’s past infatuation and staunch defense of biotech. I don’t buy those intentions at all. Not with Agenda 21 tactics, a crumbling food system and economy, corporations that drain and frack the daylights out of drought-stricken aquifers, states that only vote yes to label GMOs in the far-off future, and the DARK Act looming in Congress. Those things tell me to be vigilant and not to get too excited.

On a lighter and more productive note, we can keep up that consumer demand because, right now, it cannot be ignored. On the other hand, don’t forget to reach out to farmers, but also demand ways for them to make a living using better methods – there isn’t incentive to do so currently, in fact, quite the opposite. Let’s not let them fall behind the market curve. Maybe we could bring this news to Farm Aid’s attention so they can focus on helping their family farmers who wish to convert but without losing the farm.

Unfortunately, there are stifling obstacles that stand in the way of simply switching to an organic farm. More so if the “DARK Act” passes through Congress. (Hint: it punishes non-GMO farmers with fines and makes them produce labels!) For one thing, it’s not about simply switching seed, and farmers are in a sense, punished if they use natural methods. As one recent study pointed out, it would be economically better to use nature’s free services and organic methods but only if it were allowed to be economically feasible!


Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.

 

Study Finds Organic Food Is Higher In Antioxidants

organic food

Chalk up another win for organic whole foods. New research has found that organic food contains more antioxidants than conventionally-grown food and may be one of the most potent ways to fight aging, reduce oxidative stress, and support energy.

Organic Food Contains More Antioxidants

A comprehensive review that’s set to be published in the British Journal of Nutrition has found that, along with the above reasons to go organic,organic foods contain higher amounts of antioxidants (17 percent more) than non-organic. Antioxidants can help reduce (or at least slow down) damage to your cells — or what we call aging. Countless studies have found that antioxidants can reduce your risk of any number of chronic diseases. [1]

Other Benefits of Organic Food

The benefits of organic food are no secret and include:

  • No GMOs
  • Better freshness
  • No growth hormones
  • No antibiotics
  • Animals aren’t fed animal by-products

The review also found that organic food contains less of the toxic metal cadmium as well as less pesticides. Just a few of the issues that have been linked to pesticides include headaches, nausea, reproductive issues, cancer, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, impaired brain development, and behavioral disorders. The less you’re exposed to this trash, the better. [2]

Have you made the switch to organic? What tips can you share? Leave a comment below!

References:

  1. Author. Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. Br J Nutr. 2014 Sep 14;112(5):794-811. doi: 10.1017/S0007114514001366.
  2. Kenneth Chang. Study of Organic Crops Finds Fewer Pesticides and More Antioxidants. The New York Times.

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.

Organic Stakeholders Sue USDA

organic

(The Cornucopia Institute) Organic stakeholders have filed a lawsuit in federal court, maintaining that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) violated the federal rulemaking process when it changed established procedures for reviewing the potential hazards and need for allowed synthetic and prohibited natural substances used in producing organic food.  A coalition of 15 organic food producers and farmer, consumer, environmental, and certification groups asked the court to require USDA to reconsider its decision on the rule change and reinstitute the agency’s customary public hearing and comment process.

When it comes to organic food production, consumers and producers expect a high level of scrutiny and are willing to pay a premium with the knowledge that a third-party certifier is evaluating compliance with organic standards. The burgeoning $35+ billion organic market relies heavily on a system of public review and input regarding decisions that affect organic production systems and the organic label.  The multi-stakeholder National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)[1], appointed to a 5-year term by the Secretary of Agriculture, holds semi-annual meetings to solicit public input and to write recommendations to the Secretary on organic policy matters, including the allowance of synthetic and non-organic agricultural materials and ingredients.

The unilateral agency action taken to adopt major policy change without a public process, the plaintiffs maintain, violates one of the foundational principles and practices of OFPA —public participation in organic policy-making.

In adopting the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA), Congress created standards for organic certification and established the NOSB to oversee the allowance of synthetic materials based on a determination that they do not cause harm to human health and the environment and are necessary in organic food production and processing, given a lack of alternatives.

Under the law, a review of these materials takes place on a five year cycle, with a procedure for relisting if consistent with OFPA criteria. Plaintiffs in this case maintain that the USDA organic rule establishes a public process that creates public trust in the USDA organic label, which has resulted in exponential growth in organic sales over the last two decades.

At issue in the lawsuit is a rule that implements the organic law’s “sunset provision,” which since its origins has been interpreted to require all listed materials to cycle off the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances every five years unless the NOSB votes by a two-thirds majority to relist them. In making its decision, the NOSB is charged with considering public input, new science, and new information on available alternatives.

In September, 2013, in a complete reversal of accepted process, USDA announced a definitive change in the rule it had been operating under since the inception of the organic program without any public input.  Now, materials can remain on the National List in perpetuity unless the NOSB takes initiative to vote it off the List.

In a joint statement, the plaintiffs, representing a broad cross-section of interests in organic, said:

We are filing this lawsuit today because we are deeply concerned that the organic decision making process is being undermined by USDA. The complaint challenges the unilateral agency action on the sunset procedure for synthetic materials review, which represents a dramatic departure from the organic community’s commitment to an open and fair decision making process, subject to public input. Legally, the agency’s decision represents a rule change and therefore must be subject to public comment. But equally important, it is a departure from the public process that we have built as a community. This process has created a unique opportunity within government for a community of stakeholders to come together, hear all points of view, and chart a course for the future of organic. It is a process that continually strengthens organic, supports its rapid growth, and builds the integrity of the USDA certified label in the marketplace.

The plaintiffs in the case, represented by counsel from Center for Food Safety, include: Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety, Equal Exchange, Food and Water Watch, Frey Vineyards, La Montanita Co-op, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, New Natives, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Northeast Organic Farmers Association Massachusetts, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Organic Consumers Association, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, PCC Natural Markets, and The Cornucopia Institute.

[1] The NOSB is a 15 member Board comprised of farmers, consumers, environmentalists, retailers, certifiers and food producers who advise the Secretary of Agriculture and the National Organic Program on all matters related to organic food and agriculture policy.


Joint Statement of Plaintiffs on USDA Change to Organic Rule without Public Comment

[The following joint statement concerning the lawsuit challenging the changes to the USDA’s Sunset policy is provided by Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety, Equal Exchange, Food and Water Watch, Frey Vineyards, La Montanita Co-op, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, New Natives, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Northeast Organic Farmers Association Massachusetts, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Organic Consumers Association, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, PCC Natural Markets, and The Cornucopia Institute.]

When a USDA rule implementing a section of the Organic Foods Production Act as important as the “sunset provision” is changed, why are we concerned about process? Since its origins, the sunset provision has been interpreted under the USDA organic rule to require allowed synthetic materials to cycle off the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances every five years unless the NOSB decisively votes by a two-thirds majority to relist them. In making its decision, the NOSB is charged with considering public input, new science, and new information on available alternatives. In September, 2013, without public comment, and in a complete reversal of the customary public process, USDA announced a change in the rule it had been operating under since the inception of the organic program, now allowing synthetic materials to remain on the National List unless the NOSB votes it off.

The organic label is built on a history and solid foundation of holding public hearings and soliciting extensive public participation. Many of us remember when the original proposed rule – which would have allowed GMOs, sewage sludge, and irradiation – resulted in a large outpouring of public input. It was important that the public had an opportunity to be heard before the rule was adopted. This opportunity created the public belief that the process behind the organic label was something that could be trusted. Ever since then, whether there was agreement on a decision or not, we could believe in a decision-making process and the high integrity of the organic label.

We are deeply concerned that the decision-making process on allowed synthetic materials in organic production and processing is being undermined by USDA. The lawsuit we are filing challenges the unilateral agency action on the sunset procedure for synthetic materials review, which represents a dramatic departure from the organic community’s commitment to an open and fair decision making process that is subject to public input. Legalistically, the agency’s decision represents a rule change and therefore must be subject to public comment. But equally important, it is a departure from the public process that we have built as a community. This process has created a unique opportunity within government for a community of stakeholders to come together, hear all points of view, and chart a course for the future of organic. It is a process that continually strengthens organic, supports its rapid growth, and builds the integrity of the USDA certified label in the marketplace.

The failure of USDA to comply with public hearing and comment procedures on the sunset rule change serve to usurp a process and label that the organic community began building long before the agency even recognized the legitimacy of organic systems as a viable and productive form of agriculture. It is our hope that the filing of our lawsuit will help set the process straight again, as the organic sector faces important questions of practices and synthetic material use in the future. We believe in the value of the public voice in that process, as we seek to grow the organic sector through public trust in the organic label.

We must take a stand together, and hold USDA accountable to the public process that helped establish and grow organic. If we do not hold the line on public process, we fear that in decision-after-decision, organic will lose its meaning.  And, USDA will cause the demise of this treasured sector built by farmers, food producers, and the public at large, with a vision that embodies the values and principles that have made the organic label trusted and strong.

Consumers and farmers working together have helped to grow organic from the beginning. We are at a critical and historic moment when the stakeholders must lead in ensuring that our government respects what we have built and remains true to the public process and the legal framework that give organic its integrity.

Why You Should Grow Heirloom Seeds

Healthy Seeds
By: Sam Cho | Organic Lesson –

When I bought seeds for the first time, I did not know what the difference was between heirloom, hybrid, and GMO. If you are in the same boat as I used to be then check out the infographic below to learn what the main differences are. Feel free to use the embed code below if you want to share it on your website or blog.

heirloom-seeds-why-grow-infographic
Source: Organic Lesson

What is Heirloom?

Heirloom seeds come from open-pollinated plants that pass on similar characteristics and traits from the parent plant to the child plant. There is no concrete definition that every gardener uses to define heirloom plants. Some people state that heirloom plants are those that were introduced before 1951, while others state that heirloom varieties are those introduced before the 1920s. In general, you should consider heirlooms to be seeds that are possible to regrow and pass on from one generation to the next.

One important thing to note for heirloom plants is whether they are organic or non-organic. In most cases, heirloom plants are organic because they are generally only used by small-scale gardeners who do not use pesticide or other harmful chemicals. However, there may be minor cases when chemicals do get involved since heirloom plants do not always have a similar level of innate protection that hybrid and GMO plants provide against diseases and pests. Remember, heirloom refers to the heritage of a plant, while organic refers to a growing practice. They are two different things.

Heirloom vs. Hybrid vs. GMO

There are some distinct differences that one should be aware of when it comes to heirloom, hybrid, and GMO plants. First, heirloom plants are the only ones that breed true. As mentioned earlier, this means the same characteristics are passed on from generation to generation. The same cannot be said for hybrid and GMO. Hybrid plants are produced when different varieties of plants are cross-pollinated, which can happen with or without human intervention. Because there are different varieties of plants involved, it can’t be guaranteed that the offspring of hybrid plants produces identical traits as the parent plant.

Both heirloom and hybrid plants can be viewed as natural occurrences. GMO plants, on the other hand, can only be produced using unnatural methods such as gene splicing. Scientists essentially modify a seed’s DNA to ensure the resulting plant produces the desired traits and characteristics. A common example of a GMO plant is Bt-Corn.

Why Grow Heirloom Seeds

If hybrid and GMO seeds grow plants with useful traits, why should you grow heirloom plants instead? First, heirlooms are generally known to produce better taste and flavor. Heirloom fruits and vegetables are also known to be more nutritious. Last but not least, they are less expensive over the long haul. Heirloom plants may require a bit more care than their counterparts but the effort you put in will be worth it! Don’t forget that you would also be playing an important part in preserving the genetic diversity of plants by growing heirloom seeds. After all, how can hybrid seeds be produced without the existence of the original seeds?

Where to Find Heirloom Seeds

With the demand for heirloom seeds increasing, you will find that it isn’t as difficult as before to obtain them. There are certain places you might want to check out to get seeds locally. These places include: local farms, seed exchanges, and botanical gardens. How can you be sure that the seeds you are getting definitely came from heirloom plants? One thing you might want to look out for is the Safe Seed Pledge. Although it isn’t regulated, the Safe Seed Pledge is still a good sign that the company is only providing non-GMO products. Most of the well-known seed companies have already signed up for this pledge so look out for it on the seed company websites.

Organic Egg On Their Faces

eggs

Buying organic eggs is a good way to fight factory farming—but only if you buy eggs from organic farms that raise their hens on pasture.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of so-called “organic” eggs on grocery shelves that come from farms that operate more like factories, than farms—despite the pretty pictures on their labels.

Which national organic brands are the worst offenders? Egg-Land’s Best® and Land O’ Lakes® brands, along with many organic private-label store brands, according to a recent Cornucopia Institute investigation of the organic egg industry.

Based on animal welfare issues, and the fact that these brands come from farms that feed their chickens synthetic methionine, we’re calling on all consumers to boycott Egg-Land’s Best and Land O’Lakes organic eggs. We also advise consumers to steer clear of store brand organic eggs.

Check out our action alert on how to avoid these brands, and also for a detailed exposé on the big organic producers that own the brands—their crimes against animals, and their dismal track records when it comes to following the USDA’s National Organic Program’s rules for organic egg production.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Egg-Land’s Best and Land O’Lakes you’re boycotting their “organic” eggs until they stop producing them on factory farms.

Egg-Land’s Best on Facebook

Land O’Lakes on Facebook

Chicken Little vs. Chicken Big

baby-chickens

Not all organic chickens and eggs are created equal.

The best organic farmers raise their meat chickens and egg-laying hens on pasture, in compliance with organic rules that require animals to spend time outdoors in the sunshine. Chickens raised outdoors on pasture eat a natural diet of insects and worms, grasses and other greens, sometimes supplemented with organic feed. This diet provides them with a sufficient source of methionine, critical to their health.

But the biggest organic producers don’t follow the rules. They confine their chickens indoors, just like the factory farms do, or provide outdoor access but with no access to pasture—both of which deprive the birds of a natural diet that would include methionine.

The big organic producers who supplement their birds’ diets with synthetic methionine say they need the supplement in order to keep their birds healthy—a justification they wouldn’t need if they raised their birds on pasture, and/or supplemented with organic alternatives.

But the real reason the big organic poultry farms use synthetic methionine is because it acts as a growth-promoter. This allows the farms to squeak by with an “organic” label when in fact their operations, and products, are far more similar to those of the non-organic factory farms.

TAKE ACTION: Deadline April 7: Tell the NOSB: Organic Chickens Need Pasture, Not Synthetic Growth-Promoters!

Small Space Gardening

vertical garden

We don’t always have the option of moving out into the sprawling countryside to live off of the land. Our jobs dictate that we live near a city and, as a result, our yards are smaller and may not provide adequate space for a large garden. As well, those that are renting homes may also be limited on what they can do with a yard.

Patio or container gardens are a great solution to this issue. You can grow fruit trees, herbs, vegetables and fruits from the convenience of your patio while using underutilized space. As well, walls and window boxes can grow herbs, vegetables and fruits to make use of vertical space and provide you with a lovely focal point.

Urban and suburbanites can garden in their small spaces using vertical gardening and small space gardening techniques such as grow bags, vertical garden systems and containers. Some of the most popular are:

  • Vertical gardening systems
  • Window boxes
  • Grow bags
  • Containers
  • Garden boxes
  • Pallets
  • Hanging planters

Do some research on your part to determine what the best type of small space gardening is best for you. There is an unlimited amount of solutions you can find for this type of gardening on YouTube.

Plants Prefer Lots of Drainage

As well, ensure that your pots and containers have adequate drainage holes at the bottom. Plants do not like to sit in soggy soil and quickly develop root rot, as a result. Planting shallow-rooted plants such as small herbs, green leafy vegetables, strawberries, and green onions can be grown close to one another and will help plant roots stay shaded from the hot sun. This is a principle of xeriscaping and will also help to cut down on watering.

To keep plants healthy, water only when soil feels dry. The best way to determine when to water is to insert your index finger 2-3 inches into the soil. If the soil feels dry, it needs water. If it is still moist, then it can go another day until it needs to be watered.

Soil For All Seasons

Quality soil is essential in growing container plants. Because the plants will not get getting essential nutrients from the ground, you need to ensure that the soil you use is suitable for containers. Perlite, vermiculite, calcined clay (kitty litter), and sand are the mineral aggregates most commonly used in potting soils, and adding these would be beneficial to the success of your garden. The following is a mix that can support container plants for a year or two without additional fertilization.

Mix 2 gallons each of:

  • peat moss
  • perlite
  • compost
  • garden soil

with 1/2 cup each of:

  • dolomitic limestone
  • greensand
  • rock phosphate
  • kelp powder

Place a 1/2-inch mesh screen over my garden cart and sift the peat moss, compost, and garden soil to remove any large particles. Then add the remaining ingredients and turn the materials over repeatedly with a shovel, adding water if the mix seems dry. Source

What Kind of Plants to Grow?

Growing compact plants with smaller root systems is another way to garden in small spaces. Many herbs such as oregano, rosemary, thyme, lavender and sage will continue growing in most parts of the country and do not need to be replaced each season, thus making them wonderful additions to a year round patio garden.

Make a concerted effort to purchase heirloom quality seeds. These type of seeds are bred for their flavor and not their durability for shipping and mass distribution. Additionally, these seed types will produce fertile seeds that can be saved for subsequent growing seasons, which many sustainable-minded folks prefer. The following is a listing of plants that grow well in containers:

  • Bush tomatoes – requires staking
  • Peppers
  • Greens such as lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, kale
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers – requires a trellis
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Radishes
  • Potatoes
  • Most herbs

As well, consider adding some colorful flowers such as petunias, marigolds, or roses to attract beneficial insects to help pollinate your patio garden.

My Personal Experience

On a personal note, even though I have an area of my yard devoted to larger-scale gardening, it is simple not large enough for what I want to accomplish, and I have decided to extend my garden on a back patio. This is the area where I have my herbs, lettuces and bush variety vegetable plants growing. I have found that I prefer container gardening because weeds are less likely to invade the growing space and the plants are so close I pay more attention to how they are growing.

I have utilized a lot of grow bags in my patio garden. In the grow bags, have planted potatoes, onions and strawberries and they are really doing great. I have my herbs and radishes planted in ceramic containers. My green beans, tomatoes and cucumbers are still not ready to be set out, but I plan on using 5-gallon plastic containers for them.

As one wise man once said, “There are never problems, only solutions.” Even though we don’t live in the sprawling countryside, you can still enjoy organic, homegrown vegetables and fruits from the convenience of your patio. This small investment will help your family save money at the grocery store, eat more healthy and have a lovely scenery to enjoy during the summer months.


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.

How Does Your State Rank With Supporting Locally Grown Foods?

Supporting Locally Grown Foods

It is estimated that the average American meal travels about 1,500 miles to get from farm to plate. Our dependency on far away food sources leaves a region vulnerable to supply disruptions, and removes any real accountability of producer to consumer. As well, nutritional value can quickly decline as time passes after harvest. Finding local food sources can circumvent this impending issue and, because locally-grown produce is freshest, it is more nutritionally complete.

Search for locally grown food near you

On a personal note, I have always had a wonderful experience at farmers markets. I’m always curious how the farmers have grown their food and often ask vendors this question. The vendors are more than willing to give you information about their growing process and how the product was grown. And, because they want you to be a long-term customer, they will often make deals with you and sometime throw in additional products. As well, many provide samples to taste their newest fresh grown edibles. But knowing you are helping your community thrive is the best feeling in the world. Read more about the benefits of buying locally.

For the last ten years, the number of farmers markets have more than doubled. Although buying from local farmers markets has taken off, not all states share the same enthusiasm. Strolling with the Heifers has put out a very informative graphic on how the states compare in the growing interest in locally produced food.

(click image to enlarge)

Locavore-2014-615x1024


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.

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.