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Organic Produce – Is it worth the money?‏

June 17th, 2011

Hi and welcome back!

Today’s issue is about organic produce, and whether or not it is worth the extra money.

Summer is less than two weeks away!  As the grass gets greener and flowers start to bloom, the world seems to get much more colorful. For me, that means my meals seem to get more lively too.  Farmers markets are now in full swing, with a bounty of fresh produce.  I thought that a farmer’s market meant organic produce.  I’m not sure why I thought this, but it is not always true.

Sometimes a farmers’ market is just a way for farmers to sell off excess produce.  If you are seeking organic items, ask about growing techniques and if you find some are not organic find out what they use on their crops and when they last sprayed.

What does it mean to be organic? PickYourOwn.org explains it this way:

“The USDA has put in place a set of national standards that food labeled “organic” must meet, whether it is grown in the United States or imported from other countries. USDA’s National Organic Program regulates the standards for any farm, wild crop harvesting, or handling operation that wants to sell an agricultural product as organically produced. After October 21, 2002, when you buy food labeled “organic,” you can be sure that it was produced using the highest organic production and handling standards in the world.”

I like the PickYourOwn website. It has a great deal of information. You can look up farms in your area that have places where “you pick.”  It also provides crop calendars, and for those of you brave enough to attempt it, there are instructions for canning, freezing and making jam.

I love the idea or organic food, but I must admit, I am not always pleased with the appearance. I have purchased organic apples at local our grocery store and if you hold it next to a conventionally grown apple, you will notice the differences immediately. The organic apple will not have the sheen of the conventional one, nor will it be free of little bug holes.  Also, the color may seem a bit dim.

So, I wonder, are the conventional ones made to look more appealing because they really aren’t good for us?  Why shine them up?  If they weren’t shiney, would they lose their appeal? And what kind of wax/oil is used to get that shine?

And then there is the cost. If a farm is not using chemicals, fertilizers or pesticides, I’d figure the cost of growing a crop would be lower, yet items grown organically can be as much as fifty percent more than their conventional counterparts.  Why so much more?

Some say organic farmers have to go through quite a lot of hoops to be certified as organic or that they have to spend more for natural compost and soil preparation.  Also, there is the idea that smaller crops have to be grown,  and due to poor soil, crops must be rotated every year.

Whatever the reason, when it comes to finances, no matter how health conscious we are, everyone has a budget.

Perhaps in response to our dilemma, the TODAY Show ran a segment about “The Dirty Dozen” – twelve fruits / vegetables that should always be purchased organic.

The Dirty Dozen
Organic Fruits (Any fruit with a thin skin or a skin that can be eaten)

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
Organic Vegetables (Any vegetable with a thin skin or a skin that can be eaten)

  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach

The Dirty Dozen Dilemma
The theory behind this dirty dozen list, is that any fruit or vegetable that has a thin skin or a skin that is eaten (strawberries, apples, potatoes) should always be organic.

Any item with a thick skin that is removed before eating (think banana or pineapple) could be non-organic. The thought being that any pesticide residue would be removed with the skin. I don’t know if I agree with this. Aren’t the chemicals and/or fertilizer in the ground leeching into the seed that becomes the plant?

And what about items not on the list, like broccoli, cauliflower, mangos and blueberries? Wouldn’t they also “need” to be organic?

I’ve realized that no matter how well intentioned I may be, the fact remains that the produce I grew up on is not the same as the produce available today.  Soil conditions have degraded over the years and in an effort to produce more food for market, farmers have turned to pesticides, chemical fertilizers and preservatives.  I can only do so much.

So, this year, in addition to attending the Farmers’ markets, I’m attempting my own version of organic produce by having a garden. I’ve never had a garden before.  This is due mainly to my propensity for over-watering house plants.  (My husband has suggested drip irrigation, so hopefully, we’ll grow something.)  We aren’t using any fertilizer or pesticides – just water (with a few drops of Life Transfusion Liquid Minerals added every now and then), sunlight and seeds. We’ll see what happens.

As for whether organic produce worth it or not, only you can decide for yourself. Each family has to decide what they can afford and how they can best incorporate organic produce into their lifestyle and budget.

Next Time:

Summer will be in full swing, so next time, lets focus on some lighter fare, refreshing drinks, and maybe a dessert… or two!

Community Kitchen, Recipes, Vegetarian , ,

Salmon, Couscous, and Asparagus with Black Bean Salsa

May 9th, 2011

Serves 4

Since we are a family in transition, we don’t eat beef, pork or poultry, but we do eat some fish. This week’s recipe is a quick dinner that can be made in 25 minutes or less. It is one of my go-to meals when I haven’t had time to try a new recipe.

Ingredients:

Fish (3 oz. per person)

Asparagus (2 bunches)

Couscous

1 – 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 – small tomatoes, seeded and diced

1/3 of a medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

Red onion

Cilantro

Olive oil

1 Tbsp. lime juice

Cumin

Garlic powder

Directions:

Fish: Wash the salmon (or fish of choice), place on foil and season with lemon, or our favorite, Greek seasoning. Wrap up the salmon and place on a baking sheet to put in the oven at 400. (Leave some room on the tray for the asparagus). The fish will take 10-15 minutes depending on how thick it is. It is done when it flakes easily.

Asparagus: Rinse the asparagus and snap off the dead ends. Arrange on the baking sheet next to the foil wrapped fish. Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil to coat and sprinkle with coarse salt. Put the tray in the oven. The thicker the asparagus, the longer the cook time, about 10-15 minutes for thick and about 7 minutes for thin ones.

Couscous: takes about 10 minutes. Boil the water, stir in the couscous, cook for 5 minutes and let it sit for 5 minutes. Follow package instructions accordingly.

Bean Salsa: While the fish, asparagus, and couscous are cooking, make the salsa. Drain and rinse 1 can of black beans. Place in a medium bowl along with the tomato, cucumber, 1 tablespoon each of finely diced red onion and cilantro. Drizzle with juice of half a lime (1 tbsp) plus one tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of cumin powder, dash of garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

When everything is done cooking, arrange the couscous on a plate, top with bean salsa, roasted
asparagus and a scattering of the cooked fish.

Recipe courtesy of Laura Aychman

Community Kitchen, Recipes , , , ,

Getting Ready with Meat & Dairy Alternatives

March 25th, 2011

As I mentioned in my introductory article, I will share with you recipes and tips that I’m learning, as my family and I transition to a plant-based eating plan.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to implementing change: 1.  Change is swift and complete.  2.  Change occurs gradually over time.  While either could be true and useful, I would recommend that if you do not have a pressing health issue, you make your transition as stress-free as possible. You don’t need to throw out all the “bad” food in your pantry, but if you choose to do that, take the time to donate any usable items to your local food bank or shelter. In the thread of gradual change, as you run out of things, purchase plant-based alternatives.

Now, off to the grocery store.  My first tip:  Go to your local grocery store with fresh eyes and extra time.  We are all creatures of habit and if you’re like me, you know exactly where things are in your grocery store.  You go in, get what you need & get out as quickly as possible.  When you give yourself time, you can  make this trip an adventure to see what treasures you can find.

You may have heard to shop the perimeter of the store because interior aisles have less healthy options.  This is true for the most part.  The produce section is where you will spend a great deal of time choosing your fruits and vegetables, however you will also venture into the aisles containing ethnic foods, grains, pastas, dried and canned beans, rices, frozen fruits and dairy and meat substitutes.  This is why the first trip to the grocery store should be a way for you to familiarize yourself with what is available, not necessarily to purchase.  Go aisle by aisle. Read more…

Community Kitchen, Recipes, Vegetarian , , ,

Dr. Vegetable Will See You Now!

March 11th, 2011

The greatest healing doctor of all time in my book was Hippocrates who said these immortal words:

“Your food should be your medicine, your medicine should be your food.”

The greatest healing foods on the planet are the wonderful gifts that God gave us in his original Garden of Eden:  succulent fruits, juicy vegetables, yummy nuts and bountiful grains.

But good as all this is, so many people find “going Vegetarian” just too difficult.  Well, sit back, we have the answer for you!  It’s called, “Community Kitchen“.  (Click on the link if you’d like to start receiving this newsletter.)

Come on in, take a seat and get healthier by the spoonful.

Wayne Garland



Thinking about eating Vegetarian?

a photo of Laura Aychman

Laura Aychman

Hi, my name is Laura.

When I first began at the company, my husband Dale would make comments about changing to a vegetarian diet. For as long as I have known Wayne, he has been a vegetarian and a strong advocate for no dairy.

While I could understand the health benefits, I wasn’t compelled to revamp how I cooked. I felt our diet was already healthy.  We seldom ate red meat, but we did eat chicken, pork or fish, with a good mix of vegetables, almost every night.

In October 2010, we had the opportunity to watch a pre-screening of the movie “Forks Over Knives.” (The film is coming to theaters in May and I recommend you go see it.) Sitting in that darkened banquet hall, I was stunned at the information shared on the screen.  I had heard most of it before, but the term “plant-strong” appealed to me. And to my delight, it appealed to our 11 year old son Jacob too.

We left the movie that night thinking we have to change how we eat. And then reality set in – we have to change how we eat! This meant I would have to change how I cook.  Thoughts started rushing through my head about where would I start?  What would we eat?  How would I make the kids’ lunches?

I was overwhelmed just thinking about it.  I wondered, “Is there a class I could take?  Where do I find someone to teach me to cook this way?”

Read more…

Recipes, Vegetarian

Soothing Seaweed Soup

October 29th, 2009

This powerful Thyroid-enhancing soup not only provides essential Iodine from Kelp sea vegetables to nourish the entire thyroid “factory”, but it is also high in amino acids and antioxidants and is practically a total meal in itself.

This and other miso soups, when properly prepared, can have an extraordinary effect on one’s energy, leaving one calm yet alert.

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 piece of approx. 4″ x 4″ kelp dry sea vegetable from health food store
3 oz. Soba noodles (Or you can use Udon or Ramen or your favorite!)
6 cups pure, filtered water
½ cup julienned carrot strips, 2″ to 3″
¼ lb. tofu, firm or extra firm, diced
¼ cup red pepper strips
3 Tbsp. light miso (barley)

Optional:
1-2 tsp. grated ginger
Few drops of toasted sesame oil
Sliced scallions for garnish

Read more…

Recipes, Thyroid , , ,

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