When and Why To Buy Organic

This is a great article from the Huffington post on which foods you should always buy organic. Eating healthy is not cheap. But these are the top food you need to spend those extra dollars on.  Save the non-organic for items like melons and oranges that you will remove the outter skin before consuming. Eliminating chemicals from your diet is a must when eating healthy.

7 Best Foods to Buy Organic

By Caroline Young

While it may seem like the organic food movement became popular over the past two decades, it is actually a much older concept. Everyone ate organic fruits and veggies before World War II, because all crops were organic. It was after that when many farmers started “conventionally” growing crops: spraying them with new, synthetic pesticides and chemicals to reduce weeds, insects and rodents. Now many of us enter the produce section with some confusion, as we are offered every fruit and veggie grown in two very different ways.

What’s the Difference Between Conventional and Organic Foods?

Conventional foods differ from organics in several ways, including the use of chemical versus natural fertilizers (i.e., compost) to feed soil and plants. Conventional farmers also use synthetic herbicides to manage weeds, while organic farmers use environmentally generated plant-killing compounds. Therefore, organic produce has significantly fewer pesticide residues than conventional produce.

The USDA organic regulations also ban the use of food additives, processing aids, and fortifying agents found in conventional foods, like artificial sweeteners and coloring, preservatives and monosodium glutamate.

Global organic food sales have skyrocketed from a total of $1 billion in 1990 to $29 billion by 2011. However, those numbers only represent about 4.2 percent of all food sold in the U.S. during this time period. And as more and more people buy organic foods for their health benefits, these foods often get a bad rap for higher costs.

In the conversation over benefit vs. price, some studies reveal doubt around organic foods truly having significantly higher nutritional benefits than conventional foods. Despite the skeptics, there is a rising agreement in the scientific community that small amounts of pesticides and other chemicals have negative effects on health. Pregnant women and mothers should especially be aware because studies show fetuses and young children may be more negatively affected by harmful exposure to low levels of pesticides.

1) Potatoes

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When deciding which foods to buy organic, potatoes are a must. Most conventionally-grown have one of the highest pesticide contents among fruits and veggies. The USDA discovered 81 percent of potatoes tested in 2006 contained pesticides even after being washed and peeled.

2) Beef

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When animals are conventionally raised, they are fed growth hormones and medications to fight disease and speed growth, which inevitably end up in our hamburgers and our bodies. The hormones push cows’ estrogen and testosterone levels unnaturally high. In turn, those hormones can possibly have strong effects on our natural body processes. The European Union actually banned all hormones in beef. On the other hand, organic farmers try to match the natural behavior of animals and permit access to the outdoors. To reduce diseases, organic farmers take measures like rotational grazing, clean housing, and organic balanced diets with no animal by products.

3) Milk

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To increase the quantity of milk produced, cows raised conventionally are given rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), which is banned in the European Union and Canada, among others. While there is no solid scientific evidence rBGH can harm us, it may benefit us to drink milk free of rBGH given theAmerican Cancer Society has determined the potential harm to humans is inconclusive and rBGH can cause adverse health effects in cows.

4) Apples

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Apple peel is one of this popular tree fruit’s healthiest parts, offering phytochemicals that can reduce risk of cancer and heart disease. Unfortunately, the peel is where pesticides accumulate, putting apples at the top of the organic foods priority list.

5) Strawberries

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Do you wonder why the conventional strawberries sometimes appear a bit brighter in color than their organic counterparts? It’s because some of them are enhanced with a substance containing thecontaminant fungicide captan. Plus, conventional strawberries with the most pesticides are often the imported ones because pesticide restrictions are not always the same in other countries.

6) Kale and Spinach

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While spinach and kale offer many nutrients with very low calories, they are often sprayed with more than 20 kinds of pesticides before being tossed in our salads and cooked in our omelets. A USDA studyfound 58 pesticide residues are usually contained in spinach.

7) Peaches

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Peaches, while juicy and delicious, are high on the list of tree fruits for being the most susceptible to pesticide residue, and usually contain levels above the legal limits. Contaminants in peaches arefungicides captan and iprodione, which have been linked to cancer.

Going Organic Can Help Our Planet

Production of conventional foods may cost the planet a whole lot more than a few extra bucks at the grocery store. Overtime, pesticides and herbicides used in the harvest of conventional foods contaminate groundwater, promote erosion, and destroy soil structures. Plus, they can threaten the U.S. food supply by contributing to “colony collapse disorder,” or the mysterious die-off of pollinating honeybees.

Conventional Produce Is Better Than None

While it is beneficial to our health and planet to buy organic foods as much as possible, it can be hard to dole out the extra cash, especially during slower economic times. If it is just not in the budget, don’t fret. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that advocating for policies to both individual and global health, created a list of produce called the “Clean 15,” which are your safest choices. They have the smallest pesticide load and the safest conventional foods to consume. Some of the foods include mushrooms, pineapple, avocado, asparagus, and sweet potatoes.

Remember, it is important to keep plenty of fruits and veggies as part of a balanced diet, and not to sacrifice the benefits of eating fruits and veggies for the risk of pesticide exposure. Focus on going organic when it fits into your life, especially focusing on the foods you eat most often and high-pesticide foods, including BuiltLean’s top seven.

School Birthday “treats”

A huge concern of mine is all the “treats” or junk my children are offered at school.  In a classroom of 24 kids with 24 birthdays celebrated in 9 months thats 2.7 birthdays a month. Thats blue frosting, high fructose corn syrup, chemicals, preservatives, sugar, and dyes offered to our kids usually without us knowing. It is also 23 celebrations my children cant participate in. Yes, I’m that parent, my kids say “No Thank You” and watch everyone else  consume the dyes and chemicals. So this past year we tried to set an example to show that birthday celebrations do not need to revolve around the consumption of unhealthy treats. I am also trying to change the way our school handles these celebrations and school rewards, by eliminating “food” as treats and turning to prizes or treats that are not food of any sort. Yes, I could have sent fruit or veggies but I was trying to show that we can celebrate without eating something. These are the 3 treats my younger children took this past school year to celebrate their birthdays.

Lucy took jump ropes for each child in her class. She was turning 11 and was in 5th grade. They cost me $1.00 each. We attached a little poem to each one that read:

Hip Hip Hooray,

It’s Lucy’s birthday!

Lets all jump for joy,

because she got you this cool toy!

Thanks for celebrating her day,

now lets go outside and PLAY!

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Charley was turning 9 and in 2nd grade. Charley took pins. These cost me about $.10 each. 

Thank you for making my birthday out of the world.

Thank you for making my birthday ROCK!

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Finnegan was turning 7 and in 1st grade. He gave everyone tubes of glow sticks. Cost $1.00 each.

Thanks for making my birthday CHEERY and BRIGHT!

IMG_3490My Children did not complain that they weren’t taking cupcakes or cookies. They also told me everyone was really excited to have something to take home. Yes we can all complain about the $1 toys and trinkets that clutter our homes but I would much rather have my house  full of clutter than my children full of poisons and chemicals. We may not be able to change how everyone thinks but we can lead by example and show others their are alternatives.

Valentine (healthy) Treats


heartday

val·en·tine  [val-uhn-tahyn]

 
download (1)valentinesnoun
1. a card or message, usually amatory or sentimental but sometimes satirical or comical, or a token or gift sent by one person to another on Valentine Day, sometimes anonymously.
2. a sweetheart chosen or greeted on this day.
3. a written or other artistic work, message, token, etc., expressing affection for something or someone: His photographic essay is a valentine to Paris.

Valentines day is the biggest candy day of the year! I absolutely cannot stand how every holiday revolves around chemical filled junk. Valentines is about expressing your love and affection for those that mean the most to you. I had to explain to my 15 year old daughter that Valentines is mostly for little kids and their moms finding crafty cute ways so spoil them. For most woman and mostly teenage girls it’s a day of disappointment. That being said how did showing your love for someone become about chocolate, fun dip, and heart shaped pizza? Well because the fact remains  that in America we incorporate food and mostly sugary food into every  social gathering.

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How can you make your kids feel special on Valentines without all the junk? And what do you do about the school party where every Valentine has a sucker or pixi stick taped to it? My kids actually brought home more candy from 3 class parties than the three of them collected trick or treating this past Halloween. Insert face of disappointment here.

Special Lunch of love

For my younger kids I packed them a special Valentines day lunch. This one is for Charley who has lots of food intolerances. He has sweet red peppers cut into hearts, as well as cucumbers and red cherry tomatoes, a pumpkin muffin with a cute Valentines LOVE toothpick, strawberries shaped as hearts, sunflower seeds, an apple that I made by cutting a heart out of a green apple with a cookie cutter and placing it in red apple. I also added a cute little card expressing my love and his little gift of a valentines themed lunch box sized hand sanitizer and the holder he has been asking for.

20130217-234815.jpgLucys lunch was a bit different with a sandwich cut with a larger heart cookie cutter, and little watermelon hearts. I also gave her yogurt with fresh strawberries and raspberries in it. Any red or pink fruit and veggie shaped like a heart makes them happy. Try cutting homemade fruit leather in to hearts.

Teacher need love too

IMG_1661Our teachers Valentines were simple and quick. Again we shared a healthily snack and gave them apples that had the message: “you are the apple of my eye” . A friend shared the idea from Pinterest. They had a “plum perfect”  “bananas for you” and “pear”-fact” all very cute ideas! I also received one from a sweet preschooler that said “you’re a’cutie'” can you guess what fruit that was?

Classroom Idea

For my class party at my preschool I had each child bring a piece of fruit to create a “friendship salad” that they helped prepare. Each child washed their fruit then cut it up before adding it to the bowl. In the end we had a beautiful healthy treat that everyone had worked together to make.

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Chicken Stock

Tonight the younger kids had a sitter so Matt and I could go watch Rylee in Honors Choir. I had thrown a chicken in the crock pot in the morning for something easy for dinner. Though they are not fond of boring chicken and veggies for dinner, Charley alway perks up when he realizes what crock pot chicken means: Tomorrow will be Chicken Pot Pie! As often as I can I use the left over chicken to make a great gluten-free, dairy free, homemade pot pie. So make sure you watch for that recipe in the next few days.

The other thing I do with crock pot chicken is make my own Chicken Stock. There is nothing like REAL chicken stock when making homemade soups. I throw all the “extra” parts of the chicken back into the crock pot, yes bones, juice, skin, you name it! I may add carrots and onions depending on how I’m feeling. Garlic would be good too, but right now we still can’t do garlic. I then fill the crock pot with water throw in salt and pepper, turn on low and let it simmer over night. In the morning I pour it through a strainer into freezer safe  jars. I also fill an ice tray (Tupperware makes a great one that comes with a snap on cover) with the stock, then when I’m roasting potatoes or sautéing veggies I can drop in about 2 tablespoons pre frozen cube for added flavor.