Posts tagged real food
Quick Scones, Gluten Free

I don't miss many foods now that I have to keep to a completely gluten free diet.

I don't have celiac disease, but I'm seriously gluten intolerant and eating gluten essentially shuts down my brain function. Debilitating brain fog that feels sticky and thick, headaches, difficulty forming sentences, crippling fatigue... it makes me feel like my brain injury is fresh. Which I HATE. So making a change to my diet to avoid all that was, and is, 100% worth it.

Sometimes I miss Montreal bagels, and real French pastries, but there is a bakery in Montreal that makes a mean gluten free croissant now, and they SHIP TO THE US! So I get my fix on occasion by ordering online

But good scones. Oh man, I haven't had one since I was a kid. Not too sweet, just the right crumb and texture, holds butter well... I've had few that are ok but they're all too sweet to be "real" scones in my book. I had pretty much accepted that I would never find a gluten free version that met my standard.

And then my husband made one by accident. And it was WONDERFUL. And fast, and easy, and all that good stuff.

So here's the recipe!

 

Gluten Free Banana Scones

Banana Scones

• 1 cup all-purpose gluten free flour (no gums! Get the recipe for my custom AP flour blend instantly when you sign up for my newsletter)

• 1 scoop vanilla plant protein - get my favorite from my nutrition partner HERE

• 1/4 tsp sea salt

• 1 tsp baking powder  

• 1 tsp baking soda

• 2 mashed bananas

• 1 egg

• 1 TBSP avocado or melted coconut oil

 

Preheat oven to 350º F - Makes 1 dozen mini scones

Thoroughly mix all ingredients together until fully incorporated. Dough should resemble fluffy cookie dough. Spoon golf ball sized amounts onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Use wet fingers to shape into little triangles, or to your liking.
Bake for 15 minutes until springy to the touch and brown on the bottom. 

Let cool completely before serving, and enjoy! 

•••

 Original/Plain Scones

Gluten Free Original Plain Scones

1 cup all purpose gluten free flour (no gums added to the flour mix!)

• 1 scoop vegan vanilla protein (get my fav from my nutrition partner HERE)

• 1 TBSP psyllium husk

• 1 tsp each baking powder and baking soda

• 1/4 tsp sea salt

• 1 egg

• 1 TBSP avocado or melted coconut oil

• 1/2 cup plain European style whole milk plain yogurt (also, no gums!)

 

Preheat oven to 350F Makes 10 mini scones

Blend dry ingredients together in a bowl until all one color. 
Blend wet ingredients in a separate bowl, then add dry ingredients to the wet and mix thoroughly.
Mix until fully incorporated. Dough should look and feel like fluffy cookie dough.
Drop golf ball sized lumps of dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Shape into triangles or desired shape with wet fingers.
Bake for 15 minutes until springy to the touch and brown on the bottom.
Let cool completely before serving, enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon and Pumpkin scone attempts are up next! Keep an eye out for those before Halloween.

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5 Steps To Perfect Kale Chips
Prepared kale leaves for making kale chips.

Prepared kale leaves for making kale chips.

Making kale chips is so easy to screw up.

They're the easiest thing to make but I see so many recipes online that give terrible directions! Recipes all over the internet completely butcher the nutritional value of this amazing snack so I'm going to tell you how to do it correctly.

I love kale chips even more than potato chips when I'm craving something salty and crunchy. They really are crazy easy to make, so there is no reason to pay crazy prices for them at the health food store, but you need to do it right. Here's how:

Step One: Get a large head of kale (preferably organic) or two - here I used a full head of lacinto (dinosaur) kale and a full head of curly kale - and tear it into bite sized 1 1/2 inch pieces, removing the ribs and stems. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Toss kale pieces into a large bowl.

Step Two: Coat the kale leaf pieces in extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil. Use 1-3 tablespoons of oil, you want every piece coated but not swimming in oil. Massage the oil into the kale with your fingers.

Step Three: Season with sea salt and garlic powder to taste. I used 5-8 full grinds of sea salt and a light dusting of garlic powder, no measurements. Start with a light seasoning and add to it as needed.

Step Four: Lay seasoned kale pieces out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Try to avoid any overlapping pieces! If they overlap, they will stay soggy.

Step Five: Place in a 200 degree F oven and allow the kale to dehydrate (NOT bake) until crisp. Check the kale after the first hour and then as needed. The oven isn't hot enough to burn them quickly but you don't want to leave them under even low heat any longer than you have to. 

Serve as finger food and enjoy your chips! My favorite thing about kale chips is how they disintegrate and melt in your mouth. So yummy.



*** Keeping the heat in the oven low helps to preserve the nutrient value of the kale. High heat destroys vitamins. High heat will also burn the edges of the leaves.
*** If you have a dehydrator, use that instead! Your chips will be even better and will retain most of their nutritional value.
*** Organic kale is important because it is a crop that consistently lands on the EWG's Dirty Dozen.
*** Using oils like extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil add healthy fats to your chips instead of the inflammatory oils high in Omega-6 essential fatty acids typically used on potato chips. Their flavors also work well with the kale!
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Live Healthy on a Budget

We've all felt like eating healthy food and buying natural, non-toxic products is expensive! And it can be (stores love to charge us more for the good stuff).

But it doesn't have to be.

My goal is to give you as many resources as possible to achieve your "whole healthy" without spending a ton of money. We all need to eat, we all buy groceries, so why not save money on as many things as possible while making amazing, healthy choices? You can do that.

Thrive Market offers organic, non-GMO, paleo, gluten free etc. foods, plus non-toxic cleaning and personal care products, beauty products without all the chemical junk, vitamins, baby food and products, home goods, pet care products...

all at 25-50% off retail prices. 

These are just some of the products you can get from Thrive Market. They carry so many amazing products and brands. Click the image to browse their site.

These are just some of the products you can get from Thrive Market. They carry so many amazing products and brands. Click the image to browse their site.

It's like Whole Foods, at Costco or Amazon prices (or better) with the convenience of ordering online and having it arrive on your doorstep.

Shipping is FREE on orders of $49+, a purchase total that's easy to hit since we probably spend that at the grocery store anyway. I don't think I've ever paid for shipping on my orders.

There's no need to opt for the nutritionally void, "cheap" food because Thrive Market makes healthy food affordable and accessible. You don't need to live next to, or spend your whole paycheck at, a store like Whole Foods.

Order from Thrive Market and the health will come to you.

In recycled, carbon neutral, recyclable packaging, too! 

Thrive Market is a buying club, like Costco or Sam's Club but their $59.95/year membership fee makes it cost less than $5/month to belong, and you aren't stuck buying giant bulk sizes.

To add to the excitement, you get 25% off your first order, AND a 30 day free trial after your first purchase to see if you actually like it, PLUS the free shipping on orders of $49 or more. How cool is that?

So when your first month is free anyway, and you get 25 % off your first order, and it's easy to get free shipping, why NOT sign up right now?!

I am a Thrive Market Ambassador, so if you click one of my links to subscribe, I will get a small commission, but that's not the point and not why I'm telling you about this. I mean, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to make a little money but if you sign up for Thrive, you SAVE money on things you'd buy anyway, I make a little money, and then I can keep providing you with free content. It's win, win, win all around and this is a way for you to get amazing, healthy stuff for SO MUCH less than retail prices.

My whole platform is about giving you ways to get healthy and be healthy without spending a lot. Food was a big factor in my healing so having access to organic, gluten-free food was, and is, essential to my health. I want you to have your essentials too because the foods we eat and products we use can often impact how we feel within minutes, not to mention their effect on our health over the long term.

One last thing, Thrive Market believes all families deserve access to healthy food. Many families on a fixed budgets  have struggled to buy organic, healthy products because of the often prohibitively high prices. (Raises hand... This has been me for most of my life!)

Thrive Market matches every paid membership with a membership for a family in need, so nothing stands in the way of everyone accessing nutritious choices and truly non-toxic products. If you sign up, you also help another family who needs this but can't afford it.

Please use the Share link below to share this post with your friends. Post it on social media, email it, however you want to spread the word. Get your friends and family to use the links in this post to go to Thrive and sign up! 

SO SO sorry, Canada. Thrive Market isn't available to you yet but I'll let you know if that changes in the future!

XOXO Maggie


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Nourish Body and Mind: Make These 3 Easy Meals

When I cook, I want it to be easy, straightforward and give me a delicious, nutritious dish when I'm done. I do NOT want to slave over a hot stove all day! Do you feel the same way? Unless you're a chef and it's what you love to do... I'll be honest, I don't cook much because my husband is ridiculously talented in the kitchen and he cooks for me (I am blessed!) but when I do cook, I also want to enjoy the process and know I'm making something that will make me feel great instead of gross. So that means EASY with real, whole ingredients, cooking from scratch and not using a junky mix out of a box. Don't be intimidated. If I can do it, you can too! These are 3 recipes I love that are super easy to make, healthy, and most importantly, delicious ! Healthy food doesn't have to taste like sawdust. As my husband says, "It's not good for me if I won't eat it!"

When I made my first meal in the rehab hospital (it was a task I had to do as part of my occupational therapy), I chose what I thought would be easy. Grilled cheese and boxed mac'n'cheese. The mac'n'cheese is JUNK, I know, but back then I was taking it one step at a time. I just wanted to make some food and not burn the building down!

And the building remains! Woohoo!
Except I totally burned the grilled cheese. Like burned it black.
So my confidence in the kitchen was not at its highest and I didn't cook much at all for a few years. With a TBI, I realized how much divided, focused attention cooking requires and it was HARD. And really tiring.  It's still not the easiest thing for me if I try to do too much. Which I do, often, because I still have that pesky high achiever thing going... but if I stick with what works and I go easy on myself with stuff like one-pot meals or food that doesn't require focused attention for long, I do fine.

Reheating leftovers is still a go-to for me but I can cook stuff now without resorting to processed garbage out of a box or the frozen food aisle. Since nutrition was so integral to my healing to this point and remains crucial to supporting a healthy brain and body, my husband and I usually cook things from scratch (we get restaurant takeout - never fast food - sometimes like any normal person, too) and make the effort to choose healthy ingredients to prepare.

Most convenience foods will have preservatives, artificial additives and low quality, cheap, ingredients designed to save the company money (not boost nutrition). If you follow The Food Babe, she's been instrumental in shedding light on what's really in our processed food and getting companies to remove some of their harmful ingredients from their products. I don't love or agree with EVERYTHING she posts, but she is doing what  companies and our government will not do. It's worth looking at her investigations to see some of the truth about what's in processed foods.

The easiest way to avoid all that  processed "food" that's so unhealthy... is to cook. Not prepare or assemble something from a package yourself, but cook it from scratch! Like I said, I don't want to spend hours in the kitchen. I get tired if I stand or have to focus for too long so I need to be able to make healthy food quickly and easily! These are 3 recipes I love and hope you do too. They also happen to be gluten free!
Please use organic ingredients whenever possible:

Coconut Almond Granola

If you follow me on social media, you probably saw me post this photo on Friday! This is the granola and it is so so good! When you make it, let me know how it goes in the comments below!

You will need:

 •4 cups rolled oats (certified gluten free if you are very sensitive to gluten)
1/3 cup refined coconut oil - I love Nutiva (the refined oil doesn't have a strong coconut flavor. If you want that, use extra virgin coconut oil!)
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dried shredded coconut
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped pitted dates
1/4 - 1/2 cup of local raw honey or real maple syrup - 1/2 cup honey will make granola quite sticky and sweet, less will still make a delicious (less sweet) granola.

Pre-heat oven to 350º F.
Warm the coconut oil (stovetop or microwave) until it's runny and pourable. Pour over the oats and mix well, coating oats evenly.
Spread oats on a baking sheet as evenly as possible. Bake for about 20-25 mins, stirring every few minutes until toasted and light brown. Let cool.


Warm honey/maple syrup until very runny and easily pourable.

Add cooled oats to a mixing bowl. Add almonds.

Pour warm honey/maple syrup over oats and almonds and mix well, coating evenly (pictured above).

Add remaining raw ingredients (seeds, coconut, dried fruit) and mix well (pictured left).
LET COOL COMPLETELY.

As it cools, the honey will get sticky and hard.  If you spread the mixture on a cookie sheet to cool, it's easier to break apart and add to your chosen storage container.
If broken into large chunks, it makes a great snack to bring with you  in a bag or container. If broken into smaller pieces and eaten with plain yogurt, organic milk or a unsweetened non-dairy milk, it's an awesome, filling granola for breakfast or a snack! I love sliced bananas or fresh berries on mine in the morning.
 

 

Quinoa and Kale Pilaf

This dish can be a meal on its own, or an amazing side dish. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a pseudo-grain that is packed with protein and contains antioxidants. I also love making quinoa salad in the summer by combining cooked quinoa, chopped veg and my vinaigrette (recipe included if you sign up for my newsletter!)

You will need:

I cup quinoa
2 cups of bone broth or homemade vegetable/chicken/beef broth (we sometimes use Pacific Foods organic vegetable broth when we don't have homemade broth because it has no added sugar.)
1/4 red onion, chopped
 large pinch of salt
1/2 box or 7 or 8 whole mushrooms, sliced 
• 1 tablespoon of garlic, chopped (less or more to your taste)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar or white wine.
1/2 box of pre-washed baby kale or one bunch of kale, stems and ribs removed, coarsely chopped
1/4 block of goat milk feta cheese
black pepper to taste

In the pot you will use to cook the quinoa, sautee onion in butter (grassfed, organic if possible!) with a large pinch of salt, over med-low heat until translucent.

Add sliced mushrooms and stir until they start to soften. Add a tsp/capful of balsamic vinegar or wine - adds flavor and helps deglaze the pot.

Add the chopped garlic (I got a little jar of pre-chopped garlic to make preparation even easier!) and stir. We REALLY like garlic so if you don't want it, don't add it, or add less! Totally up to you.

PourBrothWM.jpg

Add the cup of quinoa to the pot with the onions, mushrooms and garlic and stir to coat. Immediately add 2 cups of broth. Cover pot! Bring to a boil, immediately reduce to simmer and allow to cook, covered over low heat, for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, add the kale directly on top of the cooking quinoa - it should just about fill the pot - and re-cover for 5 minutes! The kale will wilt and reduce in volume in a big way, and the quinoa will finish cooking. Cooking the kale with the quinoa this way helps conserve nutrients that would get lost if it were steamed or sauteed alone because the water in the kale goes into the quinoa.

Remove the cover and remove from heat. Quinoa should be moist and soft (not mushy) with no water remaining in the pot.

Crumble feta cheese over the cooked quinoa and kale, and stir! You are done! Delicious, healthy food awaits. And if you, or your kids, won't eat kale alone, this is a great way to sneak it into a meal.

 

 

Fish and Chips made health(ier) with homemade tartar sauce

This recipe has a lot more components and steps than the others, but if that intimidates you, just try one thing! The tartar sauce can be made ahead of time so try making that the day before. It's EASY.


You could have the fish alone or with steamed veggies, or the fries as a side dish in another meal... both keep warm in the oven really well while you throw together something else to go with them. Lots of ways to try cooking each part until you're comfortable doing it all!

 
And I know... fish'n'chips.... HEALTHY? Is she crazy?!

No, I'm not.

If it weren't for potatoes producing acrylamide when heated to high heat (and to some extent the fish batter), this WOULD be pretty healthy. But there were ways to minimize the production of acrylamide during cooking and by carefully choosing your ingredients, even the tartar sauce isn't bad - especially if you only use a little for added flavor. Just don't drown your fish in it or eat it every day, and avoid burning or heavily browning the fries. Cooking the fries and fish in coconut oil is great because coconut oil is a healthy oil and a saturated fat, very stable at high heat so it will not oxidize or go rancid like vegetable oils can. It also has a slew of other health benefits. I love this version of fish and chips better than any I've tried back home on the east coast or in any restaurant anywhere. Thanks to my father-in-law for the tartar sauce recipe!

 

For the Tartar Sauce you will need:

1/2 cup sour cream - I love Green Valley Organics lactose free sour cream (or substitute greek yogurt). Eating fat does not make you fat. Just choose high quality, clean sources of healthy fats.
1/2 cup  mayonnaise  - we use Sir Kensington's non-GMO certified mayo. Most mayonnaise is made with canola or soybean oils that are almost always genetically modified unless they are organic. See my What's A GMO link for why I avoid them.
2 tbsp fresh tarragon or dill - we used dill for this.
2 tbsp dill pickle relish - we just chopped up some dill pickles we already had in the fridge.
2 tbsp capers, drained and minced.
1 tbsp minced shallot
• 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
• 1 tbsp lemon zest,
minced fine.
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sugar - we used honey (local, raw) because we didn't have any sugar
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
small splash Tabasco
pinch salt
pinch black pepper

Combine all ingredients, seasoning with Tabasco, salt and pepper at the end to taste. That's it! You will never buy tartar sauce again.

 

 

For the Chips (fries) you will need:

Warm oven to keep fries hot and crispy after frying

• 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes - these are a low-starch potato that won't produce as much acrylamide. They are denser and less fluffy than Russet potatoes which produces a better fry.
• 1 jar (23 oz) refined coconut oil - We use Nutiva 
• sea salt for seasoning

Thoroughly wash/peel potatoes. We buy organic potatoes and like to leave the skins on.
Cut the potatoes into rectangular, fry-shaped strips. Discard (compost!) any potato bits that are a lot smaller or skinnier than the rest. These pieces will burn when fried.


Rinse the raw, cut fries under water to remove excess starch. Place in a bowl, cover with water and let soak for 2 hours to pull more starch out of the potatoes. These steps will further reduce acrylamide produced by cooking at high heat. 

Thoroughly pat dry. Wet potatoes will essentially steam themselves in the oil, and cause it to foam, and won't fry up crispy :(

Heat coconut oil in a deep pan to 340º F. Use a candy thermometer to check the temp. If the oil is too cold, the fries will be greasy.

If you want do it by eye, test the heat of the oil by dropping a single piece of potato into the hot oil. If  nothing really happens, the oil is still too cold. If it bubbles furiously and turns brown quickly, it's too hot!  It should sizzle and bubble a little bit and turn a nice light golden brown while cooking all the way through after a few minutes. 


Place raw fries into the oil in small batches to avoid dropping the temperature of the oil too much. Keep frying in small batches, letting the oil come back up to 335º between batches, until light golden brown and cooked through. About 8-9 minutes.

Yukon Gold potatoes are stiffer and less fluffy than Russets so they will make a denser fry. Frying at 340º instead of 350º gives them more time to book through before becoming dark brown.

*** If you want to speed up the frying process, parboil all the cut, raw fries first for about 5 minutes and then drop into ice water so they stop cooking. Thoroughly pat dry, THEN fry at a slightly higher temp (350º F). They will fry up faster and get crispy.***

Place fries on paper towel to drain excess oil and salt the fries immediately as they become ready.
Place on a cookie sheet in warm oven while you fry the fish.

 


For the Fish you will need:

• 1 pound cod or other flaky, white fish 
• 1 cup brown rice flour + extra for dusting fish
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp dill
• 1 tsp powdered garlic

• pinch black pepper
• 3/4 cup COLD carbonated water

• 2 eggs
• refined coconut oil leftover from cooking the fries.
 

Gently rinse fish in cold water and pat dry. For large filets, cut them into smaller pieces. They will cook more evenly this way.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix water and eggs separately, then stir into dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.

Lightly coat fish with extra rice flour, then place fish fillets in batter mixture. Coat well and let stand for 10-15 minutes.

Heat oil to 350º F. You can use the same pan you used to fry the french fries. Don't fry the fish first, and then the potatoes!
Fishy fries. Ew.

Gently place small batches of battered fish into the oil. Do small batches to avoid dropping the oil temperature.

Fry until light golden brown and crispy - about 8 minutes. Turn the fillets regularly to avoid scorching the batter.

Remove fish and place of paper towels to drain excess oil. Keep warm in the oven until all the fish is cooked. 

Serve with fries and tartar sauce!

*** This fish batter makes a beautiful tempura batter, too! So if you want to make tempura veggies instead of fries, just batter and fry them before you do the fish! We've made amazing vegetarian soft tacos with tempura fried veggies for one of my vegetarian friends using this batter. So good! ***

 

If you make any or all of these recipes, please let me know how it goes and if you like/hate them in the comments below! I'd truly love to know. Have fun in the kitchen!

xoxo Maggie


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5 Reasons Why Organic Food Could Save You! (Part 1)
I love food. I always have. Ever since I was tiny, I could always be counted on to have a healthy appetite and maybe that's why I grew to have my 6-foot-1-inch frame! I grew up eating a fair bit of organic food thanks to my parents having at least some awareness of its importance, but I never really knew why eating "organic" food really mattered. I tried my best to eat well but didn't think twice about chowing down on fast food now and then - especially when I had to regain the 30 pounds I lost in the hospital while I was bedridden and fed through a feeding tube! It's only in recent years that I've learned why organic food and organic farming is so critically important if we want to stay healthy.

Produce, meats (except fish) and processed (packaged) foods can be labeled as organic but for this post, I'm focusing on produce (plants) alone because organic meat is a whole other subject that I'll tackle in another post and processed food just isn't real food, organic or not. Organic candy is not healthy!

Modern agriculture's technology has allowed us to grow food in volumes that were impossible in the days of small family farms, but bigger is not necessarily better. We've distanced ourselves from where our food comes from and convenience foods have trumped knowing how to cook. There is a push happening to take us back to knowing where our food comes from but it's not an easy change to make when our food system works very hard to keep us in the dark, and we're constantly bombarded with messaging that junky convenience foods are better, easier and preferable.

They're not!

Fresh organic produce from my local grocery store. 

Fresh organic produce from my local grocery store. 

"Organic" is a term regulated in the United States by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and in Canada by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. In order for food to bear the organic label, it must meet specific criteria. According to the USDA, , "Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods. These methods integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used."

Sound good? Here are 5 reasons why you can love it even more!

• Buying organic can save you money!
An organic strawberry

An organic strawberry

Seriously! I know people think "organic food is so expensive!" but if you buy fresh or frozen whole fruits and veggies and you buy fresh produce in season, it packs a nutritional punch so you don't need to eat as much. Junk food offers almost no nutritional value so we eat tons of it and are often still hungry when it's all gone. We feel like crap and we just spent a bunch of money of seemingly "cheap" food, and for what? Buying in bulk saves cash and if you can't eat or use it all before it spoils, did you know you can blanch (plunge it in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then ice water to stop it from cooking) and freeze your own veggies? I haven't tried freezing my own fruit yet. We freeze our vegetables when we have more peas and beans than we can eat from our garden! If you have a local farmers market, food direct from the farmer can be a lot cheaper than the grocery store and many farmers now offer CSA programs where you get a bulk box of produce or meats fresh every week or month.
Don't you feel better knowing it doesn't have anything toxic sprayed on it?

Don't you feel better knowing it doesn't have anything toxic sprayed on it?

Buying organic food can save you from exposure to toxic pesticides that could harm your health!

A recent study confirmed that if you eat organic food, you will reduce your exposure to pesticides! A pesticide called 1,3-D used on conventionally grown strawberries, for example, is believed to cause cancer.
Most pesticides are not selective and can be toxic to nontarget species including humans, and many of these cause neurotoxicity. Major pesticides (insecticides, herbicides and fungicides) are actually more toxic to human cells than the declared active principle (AP). For example:
"Ethoxylated adjuvants found in glyphosate-based herbicides were up to 10.000 times more toxic than the so-called active AP glyphosate and are better candidates for secondary side effects. This may explain in vivo long-term toxicity from 0.1ppb of the formulation and other toxicities that were not explained by a consideration of glyphosate alone. These adjuvants also have serious consequences to the health of humans and rats in acute exposures"
Not every produce item NEEDS to be organic though and you can see the "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" on the EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.
• Organic foods can provide more nutrition than their conventionally grown counterparts, saving your health and your wallet
Studies showed that organic tomatoes have higher levels of polyphenols and flavonoids (both antioxidants), and not only tomatoes - a study by Newcastle University shows higher antioxidants in organic food across the board. Organic milk has been shown to have higher levels of Omega-3s, a beneficial fatty acid, because cows producing organic milk must be grazed on pasture for at least 4 months out of the year, whereas cows on conventional dairy farms typically eat grains like corn year-round which does not raise Omega-3 levels in the milk. More nutrition equals more bang for your buck!
• Organic foods can save the health of your kids
Developing children are far more sensitive to the toxic effects of pesticides than adults. Infants' still-developing kidneys and liver cannot remove pesticides from the body as well as an adult, and babies and children may be exposed to higher levels of pesticides because they breathe faster, are closer to the ground and tend to frequently stick their hands in their mouth.
• Organic farming supports wildlife habitats for the bees, birds and butterflies we love to see, saving the pollinators of our food
Organic food matters.

Organic food matters.

Since it's been in the news a lot lately, you're probably aware of bee colony collapse and the decline of birds and butterflies. Monarch butterflies have been hit hard by increasing herbicide use wiping out the milkweed they need to breed. Milkweed is the ONLY plant a Monarch's larvae will eat. Bees' numbers are declining rapidly and although the bee deaths' cause hasn't been definitively named, many signs point to pesticides for having "sub-lethal effects" on bee colonies. Birds are being affected, too, with a certain class of pesticides called neonicotinoids (that has also taken a lot of blame for killing bees), being blamed for the decline of 14 species of birds.
Organic farming, on the other hand, supports the habitats of these little fliers, and other wildlife. Scientists from Oxford University say organic farms support 34% more plant, insect and animal species than conventional farms! 

For my fellow Canadians, Canada's organic regulations are not clearly stated for consumers like those in the US, and it required some digging. Thankfully, the CBC did a bit of that in 2011but instead of clearly stating what organic means in Canada, the regulations are buried in this document. The procedure of organic certification states, "A certification body shall certify an agricultural product as organic if it determines, after verification, that...the substances used in the production and processing of the agricultural product are those set out in, and used in the manner described in, CAN/CGSB 32.311"

CAN/CGSB 32.311 is a list of permitted substances in organic food production. Reading quickly through the list, it doesn't look like Canada permits anything crazy or much different from what's allowed in the US but man, talk about creating some major legalese that is not immediately clear to consumers! Basically what they're saying is, certified organic in Canada means that the food has been produced using ONLY the substances on their "permitted" list. So to know what that really means, you'd have to go read the whole thing, and then check it periodically to see if it has changed.

So way to go, Canada. Way to make the law dense and impossible for consumers to quickly understand.

Real food is so pretty.

Real food is so pretty.

In the US, the use of the term "natural" on food only means something on meat and poultry packaging. The USDA states that "natural" meat and poultry means, "A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product. The label must include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural (such as “no artificial ingredients; minimally processed”)."

But for other foods, the term is not regulated by the USDA or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the FDA says only, "FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances."

The term is equally ambiguous in Canada.

Do you have questions about organic food? Natural versus organic? Do you think organic is worth it or a waste of money? I'd love to know what you think! Leave your comments and questions below! 

And if you like the photos, I added some to my photography site.

xoxo Maggie


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