Archive for the ‘Organic Food’ Category

Hearty Vegetable Soup recipe

When I need something easy to make, vegetable soup is always a nice go to, as long as I have everything on hand of course. But the great thing about vegetable soup is you can improvise and use the vegetables you have on hand. I made this last night and it was a hit, so jotting it down here so I can repeat it in the future. This will give us about 4 meals (I froze 1 meals worth, then we will have 1 lunch and 1 dinner ready for this week. Woohoo!)

I used:
2 onions, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 box vegetable stock (organic)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp basil
1 box Pomi chopped tomatoes
4 cups of water (use more as needed)
4 cups organic mixed frozen vegetables (green beans, peas, carrots, edemame)
1 1/2 cups frozen black eyed peas
8 oz pasta (optional, but you’ll want to add a little more water if you do)
4 medium potatoes, diced

In a large stock pot, heat 2 tbls oil. Sauté onions until tender, during last minute, add the garlic. Then add vegetable stock and other ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour (or longer to let all the flavors blend together more). Next time I am going to try fresh celery (and eliminate the celery seed), and sauté with the onions. Either way, this soup was yummy!

Lead found in kids juice and packaged fruit

The Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) recently tested a variety of kids’ juices and packages fruits. They found more than 85% exceeded California’s Proposition 65 right to know law for lead levels, meaning the lead levels in these products are high enough to warrant a warning label to consumers.

What’s disheartening is that lead was found in conventional and organic selections tested, and no one brand seemed to be safer across the board. For the products below the Prop 65 max level, it would be interesting to know where the manufacturers source their produce from for these products.

Lead is naturally occurring in soil and is possibly the reason why lead is being found in juice. However, more research is needed to determine if these are coming from isolated orchards or if this is some by product of the manufacturing process.

It’s important to note that there are NO SAFE amounts of lead. Lead is known to cause irreversible brain damage.

ELF has contacted the manufactures and they all have been warned to come into compliance within 60 days or a suit will be filed.

What can you do?
Juice is not needed in your child’s diet. It’s best if they get their nutrition from fresh fruits and vegetables. Offer plenty of water. I totally understand that sometimes you just want a little flavor, so squeeze your own juice, or choose a product that did not exceed the exceed Prop 65’s levels and be sure to dilute it with water.

We only have juice in our house as a special treat, and then the kids get it watered down. Juice is very sugary, yes natural sugar in the 100% juices, but still very sugary. And sugar leads to cavities which is the main reason we avoid juice, not to mention it’s expensive and offers little nutritional value. Your kids will live without a daily jolt of juice. My kids typically prefer ice water over even sweet tea, they also get milk.

See who made the cut and who didn’t 

Press release

Ways to go green and eat smart

Going green really is not a big deal and in some ways can make your life easier and can save you money! Here are some very simple things we can all do to go green and eat smart.

Eat smart
1. Plant a garden
2. Compost food scraps
3. Buy local, if not available, then organic foods whenever possible
4. Join a farm co-op
5. Go meatless at least one meal a week (i.e. Meatless Monday). We’ve done this with great success and even look forward to it now. We are a meat and potatoes family, so if we can do it, anyone can! 
6. Buy foods that are in season
7. Use glass storage containers and baby bottles to avoid plastic – definitely avoid polycarbonate (BPA), Styrofoam and PVC plastic. Sometimes plastic can’t be avoided. Be sure you choose safer options.
8. Do not cook in any type of plastic (includes rewarming in the microwave) even if it is label microwave safe
9. Buy in bulk and freeze or share what you can’t use
10. Getting take out? Bring your own container to reduce on waste. Great way to carry home leftovers when dining out too
11. Don’t use Teflon coated pans
12. Avoid artficial sweetners, flavors and colors
13. Avoid MSG and high fructose corn syrup
14. Avoid processed foods, opt for fresh or frozen whenever possible
15. Avoid canned foods – most are lined with BPA which leaches into food (exception is Eden Foods, all but canned tomatoes are BPA free. Pomi tomatoes are boxed and BPA-free. Other BPA-free tomato options can be found here.)

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Organic Milk vs Hormone Free Milk

Alison asked if hormone-free milk was as good as organic.

As for as Organic milk vs hormone free, neither will have the hormone added, but the hormone “free”-only will still have pesticide residue. Organic milk comes from cows fed an organic diet – grain or grass. In most cases, organic cows are treated better (more room per cow, most organic cows graze in an open pasture), while conventional cows don’t have much room to move around. So that to me even means healthier milk since cows treated better tend to be healthier anyway, thus not needing antibiotics, etc.

art_rbst_free_milk_cnn

Hormone free vs organic – cows naturally produce hormones, so the milk is not entirely hormone free, however no synthetic hormones are added (which to me is still better than conventional milk). However, it seems as though “hormone-free” is more of a marketing term.

CNN also reported on this topic pointing out research has shown there is no difference in milk from cows treated with rbST and cows that were not. However, the author echos many who feel “science” and the FDA has let us down before and consumers are questioning the safety of, well everything.

But then again, Natural News debunks that and gives a glowing review of why adding hormones is not good, including pus getting into the milk from these cows who often get mastitis due to the overproduction of milk and these cows are then given antibiotics to treat the mastitis infection. Now, who wants all that in their milk?

Benefits of Organic Milk
Here is another very good article showing the benefits of organic milk vs conventional milk. Such benefits include less pesticide contamination, more vitamins and antioxidants, improves the quality of breastmilk and helps prevent asthma and eczema in children. Read the entire article for more benefits.

SFMilk-FamilyAs for as choosing a good organic milk, first things first – Horizon milk is not really organic, which is really sad considering it is the best selling brand of organic milk. There are several links on there, one of which is a link to thorough research of many organic brands of milk rated on how “organic” they really are. So if you choose to stay/go organic, you can choose a good brand. Also, you can usually sign up on the manufacturer’s website and get coupons — for example, Stonyfield Farm or Organic Valley may send out coupons in a newsletter.

We eat the “dirty dozen” fruits and veggies (mostly these are the ones where the outer skin is exposed like peaches, grapes, strawberries, potatoes, apples…) these are the ones that will have the most pesticides and bananas for example, do not have near as many pesticides since it is protected by a thick peel. So I get organic apples, but not bananas. I say that to give you an example that there are tradeoffs. You don’t have to go 100% organic on everything. To me, milk is one of those areas where the benefit definitely shows organic to be better.

Certainly cost is a factor. I get our milk from Whole Foods. If you drink a lot of milk or you have room in your freezer, Whole Foods gives you 10% off if you purchase a case of milk (4 gallons). We go through that in about 10-14 days, so I do this sometimes, but it’s a little hard to drink that much milk when we still give our 3 year old whole milk. And I am not sure about freezing milk, have not tried it, but know people who have with great success. And as mentioned, you can usually sign up to get newsletters which may contain coupons.

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Food Manufacturers Confess They Have No Idea if Their Food is Safe

By Janelle Sorensen
(Thanks to Janelle for her permission to re-post this article.)

I, like many others, have lost track of all the food recalls that have happened in the last 18 months. Pot pies, pizzas, peanuts, tomatoes, egg rolls, spices, flour, and more. The number of illnesses and the amount of food thrown away is staggering.

Fortunately, none of the tainted foods have impacted my kitchen. Our culinary choices thus far have been safe. But, my faith in the FDA, who I once relied on as an invisible guardian watching over my plate, has been shattered. My optimistically naïve belief that food, of all things, should be safe, has gone the way of childhood beliefs in Santa and the Easter Bunny. And, I’m not just being dramatic – here’s why:

According to an article in the New York Times, “increasingly, the corporations that supply Americans with processed foods are unable to guarantee the safety of their ingredients…companies do not even know who is supplying their ingredients, let alone if those suppliers are screening the items for microbes and other potential dangers…”

They don’t know where the ingredients are coming from? Seriously??

Commence paranoia.

Not only are many major manufacturers openly admitting that they’re pretty clueless about what’s in their food, instead of owning up to their mistakes, they’re placing the burden for safety on the consumer. We are now responsible for what’s called “the kill step,” and it’s not clear what that entails. Some companies are resorting to detailed diagrams and “food safety” guides outlining how to heat foods in a microwave and then check the temperature in several locations with a food thermometer. Others advise against using a microwave altogether. Frozen convenience foods suddenly seem very inconvenient.

Even if simply educating people to warm food to an adequate temperature was a reasonable solution, which it’s not, it wouldn’t address non-pathogenic contaminants like the arsenic found in a huge variety of processed foods around the globe a few months back.

What’s a mother to do? I’ve been a loud proponent for whole foods, local and organic when possible, for many years now, but I still have some processed foods in my pantry. I mean, who really makes things like crackers and cereal from scratch? I also buy a lot of frozen veggies – and I’ve never checked to see if I’ve warmed them to 165 degrees.

Clearly, we have problem on our hands. What do you think should be done? Do you think food safety is up to the consumer? Do you think it’s up to the government? What if safer food meant it cost a bit more? Are you willing to pay?

Find more from Janelle Sorensen at Healthy Child Healthy World, WebMD, MomsRising, and on Twitter (@greenandhealthy).

Follow me on Twitter!

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Stonyfield Farm recalls plain fat free yogurt

stonyfield_yog_plain1Stonyfield Farm is voluntarilly recalling some of its 32 oz Plain Fat Free Yogurt. After receiving reports of a “funny taste” they determined that the food grade sanitizer used to clean the equipment was not properly rinsed away. No illnesses have been reported, however, Stonyfield decided to take immediate action.

Look at the time stamp on your Stonyfield 32 oz Plain Fat Free yogurt container and take it back to the store for a full refund if your yogurt has:
May 06 09 22 timestamp 22:17 through 23:59
May 07 09 all time stamps

Visit their website for more information. The recall info is on the homepage.

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Kashi products added to peanut butter recall

Kashi has added some products to the peanut butter recall. They have set up a website dedicated to this. Click here.

The products affected by the recall are:

  • Kashi™ TLC™ Chewy Granola Bars in Trail Mix and Honey Almond Flax varieties, 7.4 ounce box with a “Best If Used Before” date prior to September 19, 2009 and followed by the letters CD (SEP 19 2009 CD)

    Kashi™ TLC™ Chewy Granola Bars Peanut Peanut Butter, 7.4 ounce box with a “Best If Used Before” date prior to August 8, 2009 and followed by the letters CD (AUG 08 2009 CD)

    Kashi ™ TLC™ Chewy Cookies in Oatmeal Dark Chocolate, Happy Trail Mix and Oatmeal Raisin Flax varieties, 8.5 ounce box with a “Best If Used Before” date prior to July 30, 2009.

    These products were also included in some Club assortment and variety packs of Kashi™ TLC™ products.

  • Chemicals that could contaminate baby formula

    Recently parents have been scared by melamine tainting baby formula, even in the US, but the Daily Green has a list of 5 chemicals that could be lurking in infant formula and offers tips on how to reduce your baby’s exposure to these chemicals.

    Obviously, breastfeeding is the best way to avoid this situation, eventhough yes breastmilk can contain chemicals as well. But the many benefits to breastmilk far outweigh these risks.

    The 5 chemicals that could be found in formula are BPA (from the lining of the metal cans); chemicals such as weed killer, pesticides, arsenic, etc. found in water that is used to mix the formula; manufacturing by-products; MSG; and genetically modified ingredients.

    Simple solutions include using BPA free bottles and sippy cups for feeding and organic formula (such as Earth’s Best or Baby’s Only) in plastic (not metal) containers.

    To read the entire article and learn more tips on how to protect your baby here

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    Crack the code on organic food labels

    The Daily Green has a quick little guide to help crack the code on those organic food labels. Check it out here.

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    Does organic milk come from grass fed cows?

    Not now, but it very soon could be a requirement. The USDA is considering requiring that all dairy cows used in producing organic milk be grass-fed during grazing season.

    I think this is a great step. Currently, these cows are fed grain that is not treated with pesticides. Grass is what cows naturally eat and what their bodies know how to process. Grain is not as easily digested and because of this, cows fed grain often have stomach ulcers, indigestion and other issues. Because of this unnatural diet, grain fed cattle are often treated with antibiotics to help prevent diseases common among grain fed cattle.

    Certainly would be a great step for all — healthier for the cows and for our consumption. Read the entire article here.

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