Posts Tagged ‘organic’

Today is one of those days I would have been better off in bed or home snuggling with Shadow (our “new” dog). Not because it’s gloomy and drizzly—though I’m sure that doesn’t help—but because I allowed the thoughts I usually keep tucked away in the back of my mind to come to the forefront during my 25-minute drive to work. You know, the stuff we’re all aware of but most choose to ignore; the sorry state of the world and how it’s in that state because of humans. And today, for some reason, those thoughts were so overwhelming it almost took my breath away.

It didn’t just come out of nowhere, either. It was triggered by something that’s actually quite ridiculous and seemingly benign. Someone I know told me she bought a cow skin rug. Big deal, right? It’s a popular decorative item. But then I started thinking about how humans feel entitled to everything and anything they want, no matter what sort of impact it has on the world that’s so graciously hosting them. Why do you need a real cow skin rug when you can get a fake one that looks just as good and is probably less expensive? Why do you need leather couches and shoes? Why do you need real fur coats? Why should animals be tortured daily for our silly accessories? We’re the only species that does it. Isn’t it bad enough that animals get treated like crap so we can eat our millions of fast food hamburgers a year? Not to mention the thousands of animals used for testing household products and medicines, which I find funny considering how different humans are from mice and rabbits. But let’s keep squirting chemicals in rabbits’ eyes so we can tell people they shouldn’t use Scrubbing Bubbles as eye wash. And I thought we humans were smart enough to figure that out on our own. (Massive eye roll.)

I’m not saying that I’m 100% vegan. In this day and age it’s nearly impossible to totally avoid animal byproducts at home and at work. Plus, I like my dairy. But when I shop, I try and shop with the environment in mind. Organic and local foods when possible. No GMOs. Clean and cruelty-free cosmetics. Vinegar and baking soda for cleaning. Certainly no cow skin rugs. Items like those are the easiest to avoid, because they’re literally the skin of the cow. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out an animal was killed for it. Anything with an ingredient listing or tag will tell you what it contains. (And if you’re thinking of commenting with the rationale that by buying these products you’re helping use the whole animal, don’t even bother. That leather couch did not come from the same cow you ate for dinner the other night.)

Either people are completely lazy or just don’t care. I have a feeling it’s a little of both, but mostly the latter. People are so completely self-centered (or maybe it’s more like species-centric) that they’ll only take action if it affects them directly. They forget that they share the planet with other species. Yeah, share. A concept you learn about as a toddler. Which means animals and insects are not encroaching on your property, because it’s not technically yours. It’s the earth’s. You just decided to live on that spot, forcing out all the other beings that were there before you. Don’t forget that humans are a relatively new species.

Then, of course, my thoughts move on to other dismal things, like Monsanto trying to bully everyone into using their genetically modified seeds, wars over oil, oil spills, pollution, and the various other shitty things the human race does without considering the lasting consequences.

As Martin Gore wrote: “It all seems so stupid, it makes me want to give up.”

Here is a great blog post from someone who shares my opinion (but says it way more eloquently and from an obviously more tolerant—and stable—mental state).

Actually, that whole blog site is pretty damn good. You should read it.

Rant over – and I actually feel somewhat better now.

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Step 1: Eliminate red meat and pork from diet. Check.

Step 2: Stop eating chicken and turkey. Check.

Step 3: Become vegetarian (with few exceptions). Check.

Step 4: Work toward an 80% raw and organic diet.

You already know what I think about raw milk. Now my horizons have expanded to raw everything else. It’s a concept that’s been brewing in the back of my mind, but one I didn’t really consider until doing a bit of research. This may sound like common sense, but it turns out that a raw diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and superfoods could be THE answer. Raw, unprocessed foods contain all the healthy enzymes and minerals the human body needs to function at its best capacity and prevent illness. Research shows (and I intend to do a lot of that and blog about it here) that if people were to eat a raw diet and supplement that with vitamins and minerals, pharmaceutical remedies would essentially be a thing of the past. Now I don’t want to turn this into a conspiracy theory, but Western medicine is a huge moneymaking business. So having a country full of healthy people wouldn’t exactly be good for business, now would it? It would explain why you don’t hear much about nutritional or vitamin therapy. In fact, the news has recently suggested that too many vitamins are a bad thing. If everyone turned to vitamins instead of drugs, then where would our precious drug companies be?

Not only is raw and organic good for people, but it’s good for the environment. Eating raw and organic means you’re supporting organic and sustainable farming and shunning industrial agriculture and cheap, processed foods. To me, it just seems like the next logical step in my progression toward health for both myself and the planet.

Going raw is a feat unto itself, and it’s one I’m going to take step by step. It will take a lot of work and research, not to mention a different way of thinking. But I’ll keep you posted as I go and let you know how I’m feeling and looking as my diet changes. To start, I’ve purchased a raw food recipe book with tips, tricks, and recipes. I’ve also invested in Green Vibrance to supplement my diet. I’m going to start slow, because this is not a diet with which I can go from 0 to 60 in one second. Getting organic and local produce around here, especially coming into the winter season, isn’t the easiest task, especially when I only have weekends to shop. (Where are all the weekend farmer’s markets?) Finally, I really do love my carbs. Cutting those down to a minimum will not be easy.

After this long diatribe, I feel like I should at least leave you with a couple of superfoods you may want to consider incorporating into your diet:

  • Raw cacao nibs. They are very high in iron and antioxidants. Just be warned, they taste like ass. Consider drizzling them with a little agave nectar.
  • Spirulina. It contains 70% complete protein (compared to steak which has only 25% once cooked). You can get it in tablet, flake, or powder form. Good thing I drink Spiru-tein every morning!
  • Green leafy vegetables. Need I say more?
  • Goji berries. They have tons of vitamin C, and also vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and E with 18 amino acids and 21 trace minerals.

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Sundays are our shopping days. My husband and I normally drive 45 minutes to Whole Foods to buy our groceries for the week, jaws dropping at the cost when we check out. Still, we go week after week, knowing that good food costs more. It’s a price we’re willing to pay, since we believe the adage: You are what you eat.

A few months ago, we went vegetarian for moral and health reasons. At the same time, I started looking into the local farm scene, wanting to support the local agriculture. As a member of NOFA Mass, I get emails and newsletters letting me know about the goings on in that scene. Recently, there’s been a lot of hubbub about raw milk and the Association’s mission to make it more readily available.* So we decided, instead of driving the 45 minutes to Whole Foods to brave the crowd and the cost, we’d instead drive to one of the nearby farms that sells raw milk.

We chose Misty Brook Farm in Barre, because it’s close, organic, and has limited fruits and vegetables for sale. The farm is located on a partially paved road, a little off the beaten path. (Not too far, though, since my GPS was able to find it.) Though it took us nearly 40 minutes to get there, it was a scenic drive on a winding road through the hills and woods of central Massachusetts. The first sign that we’d reached the farm was fenced fields with grazing cows. We probably drove past a half mile of them before reaching the farm store, a tiny wooden shack situated at the top of a dirt driveway. Thank goodness a kid was sitting in a station wagon out front. We were about to leave when he told us we could enter the closed shack, take what we needed, and leave money in the gray deposit box.


Yes, it seems Misty Brook Farm, at least at noon on a Sunday, operates on the honor system. In the shack was a fridge full of raw milk bottles, two freezers with various meats, and wooden boxes with tomatoes, greens, onions, and other fruits and veggies. Since we couldn’t find a scale, and the other stuff was priced by the pound, we opted to just take the milk and leave a check. I plan to contact them and find out how the weighing of and paying for fruits/veggies works when nobody’s there to man the farm store.

On the way back, we stopped at Carter & Stevens farm store, also in Barre, to see if we could check a few more items off our grocery list. Turns out we could: organic tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, apricot jam, corn on the cob, and raw cheddar cheese.

I admit we couldn’t get everything we needed at the farm stores, so we bought the balance at Trader Joe’s. But even with the expensive raw milk in our bags, we spent less than we normally do at Whole Foods. And we feel better about having bought local, organic stuff!

The first thing we did upon unpacking the groceries was to try the raw milk. I already think I’m hooked and am not sure I could ever go back to pasteurized milk. The raw milk was sweet and creamy as it went down my throat, and I quickly downed a full glass. My husband did the same. This sweet deliciousness is completely worth driving 40 minutes to the middle of nowhere. And if we tire of the dirt roads leading to Misty Brook Farm, we can also try Robinson Farm, which also sells raw milk and limited fruits and vegetables. We may not be buying all of our weekly groceries from local farms, but it’s a start we feel good about.

* It’s been found that raw milk has many health benefits that pasteurized milk does not. The following links provide more information about raw milk:

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I recently emailed a local farm to ask why they don’t consider themselves “organic.” The farm’s response was that they refuse to be certified as a form of “philosophical protest.” When I asked them what that means, they gave me a really great response, which I think helps to sum up my previous post:

Hello! Our philosophical protest came about after the USDA took over the
administration and nationalizing of the organic standards. Those rules
would allow, for example, that beef could be certified as organic if
they never saw a blade of grass and were fed a starchy, rich and
unnatural diet for ruminants. Our objection to feedlot beef production
(and this applied to dairy, too) that does not encourage the use of
feeds and practices that are suited to ruminants, forced us to bow out.
More of our philosophy can be viewed at our website,
http://www.caledoniafarm.com, or click here http://www.caledoniafarm.com/about.htm

However, there was a recent development in the standards that dictate
that ruminants must have access to their natural diet throughout their
lives. This is a positive development, though we will resort to staying
our course and and have our customers judge for themselves if we meet
their needs.

Going organic and/or local, like all things in life, afford benefits and
costs and it is up to the consumer to weight those costs on an
individual basis.

What is most important for you in your food purchase decisions?

We feel local production helps local economies, reduces carbon
emissions, maintains open space, and builds local capacity and self
reliance but will be more expensive to the consumer.

Organic production will keep various chemicals out of the environment
and promote more environmentally sensitive practices. And now that
organic food production has gone “big-time”, you can benefit from
economies of scale resulting in overall lower costs. These are all very
good developments in my opinion. However, food sourced from far away
carries a sizable carbon footprint and one cannot tell if the workers
who toiled over the food were treated fairly. As a point of interest,
click here for an eye opening take:

Money and where it is spent is a powerful force. Many people don’t want
to work for minimum wage, in triple digit heat, bent over a field, so
those at the bottom of the economic ladder do it for us……….

Thank you for your interest!

You can also feel free to visit Calendonia Farm’s website.

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Since I made the decision to be vegetarian (with few exceptions), I’ve come across a dilemma. Do I eat organic, or do I eat local? In a perfect world, I’d eat food that’s both organic and local, but that’s hard to come by. Seems that I either need to support the organic camp or the local camp.

Benefits of Local: Usually local is equated with sustainable. After all, if you’re getting your food from local sources, you’re not supporting the transport of produce (and meats) across the country and even the world. You are, however, supporting the local community, which always feels good. You’re not wondering where your food actually came from, because you bought it from your local farmer or store that carries local stuff. You know it’s fresh and probably didn’t travel miles in a refrigerated truck or train.

Drawbacks of Local: Local doesn’t necessarily mean better or organic. You really need to do your research to determine if the local food meets your standards. I’ll attempt to do some of that research and post it here eventually, but the research will be based on my own standards. Also, local means you can only get what’s growing that season. Being from New England, I’ll have limited   choices in winter, since you can’t really grow much under a blanket of snow. This presents a culinary challenge, especially for people like me who despise complicated cooking. Being a vegetarian just makes it that much more difficult.  This website may help people determine what’s being grown locally and in-season.

Sustainable: Let’s throw another definition into the mix. According to the Sustainable Table website, sustainable “involves food production methods that are healthy, do not harm the environment, respect workers, are humane to animals, provide fair wages to farmers, and support farming communities.” This would include buying local (the whole environment thing). However, buying local doesn’t necessarily mean you’re buying sustainably-farmed food.

Confused yet? I haven’t even touched organic.

Organic is more of a government-developed concept. We all know organic (when it comes to produce) means without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. The organic animals should be fed organic food without antibiotics, and they need access to the outdoors. The problem is that the term “organic” can be loosely interpreted. Industrial farms can get away with calling themselves organic, even though they barely meet minimum standards. Take this quote from Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals:

“To be considered free-range, chickens raised for meat must have ‘access to the outdoors,’ which, if you take those words literally, means nothing. (Imagine a shed containing thirty thousand chickens, with a small door at one end that opens to a five-by-five dirt patch—and the door is closed all but occasionally.)”

The milk from organic dairy cows can still be considered “organic,” even if those cows are jammed on industrial-style feedlots, and their only access to the outdoors is through screened windows. There is also no limit to how far organic food can travel to reach its selling destinations. I see organic greens at my local Whole Foods that were grown in California.

Unfortunately, much of the local food available at Whole Foods is grown “conventionally,” meaning it’s not organic and probably not grown using sustainable methods.

So do I choose to buy local produce, which may have been grown using chemical pesticides and fertilizers, or do I buy organic produce that’s been shipped hundreds or thousands of miles to reach my local store?

The answer is: neither.

What I really should do is strive to buy local, sustainable produce. By getting my produce from local farmers, especially at their own farm stands or at farmer’s markets, I can ask the farmers themselves how their produce was grown, whether or not they used chemicals to grow their food, if their animals are given antibiotics, and if they rotate crops and use animal waste as their fertilizer. Of course, doing this isn’t as easy as it sounds. It means finding farmer’s markets, being able to get to them, and driving to various places to get what I need. It also means adapting recipes on the fly, just in case I’m unable to get the ingredients I need. It’s by no means a feat for lazy people (and I consider myself fairly lazy). But I’m trying to muster the energy to work on this, for the sake of our planet and the animals that reside on it.

To start, I’ve found a website listing many of the local farmer’s markets.

More to come….

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The government would like to increase taxes on soft drinks, supposedly to help fight obesity. According to the New York Times, “The state budget office estimates such a tax would raise $1 billion a year when fully in effect, and reduce consumption by 15 percent.”

I agree that it would raise tons of money. After all, most people won’t be fazed by having to pay a few extra cents for soda. Just look at smokers. They whine and bitch about how the cost of cigarettes has nearly doubled in 10 years, yet they keep on smoking. I don’t agree that consumption of soda will be reduced by 15 percent, for the reason I just mentioned. And I’m pretty sure the government is counting on that, too.

See, the government wants you to think this tax is for the country’s heath. In reality, it’s just finding additional ways to get more money from the American people. Why would it single out one specific product when there are a million things that could contribute to a person’s obesity? Is it because soda consumption is out of control? According to the National Soft Drink Association (NSDA), consumption of soft drinks is now over 600 12-ounce servings per person per year. Since 1978, soda consumption in America has tripled for boys and doubled for girls. Or maybe it’s so the government can pay even higher subsidies to the industrial corn farmers, so those farmers can produce even more corn. Why? Read on.

The second ingredient in most sodas is high fructose corn syrup, which is made from — you guessed it — corn. Corn is grown by the industrial farmer. The government pays huge subsidies to these “farmers” so they can afford to grow more of the cheapest crop in America. (Otherwise, the farmers would lose money on the whole deal.)

You know what would make more sense than paying industrial farmers tons of money to grow corn and then raising taxes on the very products this corn creates? Putting your money where your mouth is. That’s right; instead of telling Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables while allowing the cost of them to greatly exceed the cost of processed foods made from corn (i.e., making it a lot cheaper to eat the foods that make Americans obese), give this money to the organic and local farmers so Americans have easier access to and can pay less for the foods that are good for them!

Problem solved!

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