Category: organic

Not many people are liking the green veggies.  I know that phase where every child sees anything green on their plate it is instantly nasty, just by looks they feel this way.  If you never outgrow that, boy are you missing out on some seriously good-for-you food.

Kale is a relative newbie to the veggie-nutrient craze.  There is tons of research on fellow cruciferous cousin broccoli, and there is a good amount of nutritional research on cousin cabbage, but poor little kale gets all left out. It’s the middle-child syndrome of the veggie world.

If you want a hint of what a little powerhouse underdog this vegetable is, let me spell it out for you.  Kale has vitamins C, A, B1, B2, B3, B12, K, E along with minerals such as calcium, iron, manganese, copper, folate, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and sulfur.  Oh wait, it doesn’t end there, kale also contains omega 3, forty-five different flavonoids (such as kaempfor & quercetin), cartenoids (including betacarotene & lutein) and even tryptophan (you know, the sleeper chemical in that super-sized turkey).  Kale has been shown in recent studies to combat FIVE different cancers (bladder, breast, colon, ovarian, prostate).  That’s just the tip of the perverbial iceberg. 

For those who are looking to lower their cholesterol intake, kale as ZERO cholesterol and actually is better than prescription drug cholestyramine (hope I spelled that right–my handwriting is more like chicken scratching, in fact I think my 2yr old writes better) at flushing out bile toxins.  Kale also has, on a per-calorie comparison, MORE protein than beef.  I believe Lightning McQueen states it best: KA-CHOW!  

Now, there are some issues surrounding thyroid, liver, and gallbladder.  For anyone with thyroid issues, and they are told to lower their intake of foods that interfere with their thyroid functions, lightly steaming your kale is going to provide a power pack of nutrients, without all the naturally-occuring chemical reactions that may react negatively with your thyroid ((always consult your naturopath–the helpful properties may far outweigh the negative on cruciferous veggies)).  For those who have liver and kidney issues, you also may want to first speak to your naturopath as the oxalates in kale, which aren’t high but do accumulate if you are eating kale for every meal every day, may interfere with your kidney and liver – related health issues. 

For the rest of us who are able to enjoy this delightful little vegetable, always be sure you are purchasing this one in the organic veggie section.  You will get far more nutrient content in the organic kale than you will non-organically grown kale, and you’ll also be ingesting less organophosphates by eating organic kale.  

Now, back to what I was alluding to above — for those of us who are able to indulge in kale as often as we like, process the leaves in your morning smoothie, add the leaves to your pizza, omelette, and pasta sauce (only add the last 5mins or so before serving to get the best flavor), and you can simply steam them for 5mins, add a little of your favorite oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.  It is also best for the kale NOT to wash it until you are going to use it because the water will be a welcoming host to spoilage.  This, of course, is difficult to do when the stores spray their stuff with water to make it look tasty, but if you grow your own, then you can harvest only as much as you need, when you need it.  You can also sprinkle your kale with fresh lemon juice 5mins prior to cooking–this will enhance the phytonutrient content of the kale.  (I know, right? Pretty cool.)  You can also cook kale stems similar to asparagus — quick boil in salt water.  I personally haven’t tried that yet, but I’ve read it’s pretty tasty that way.  Annnnddd… if you still have an overabudance of kale in your garden, make some kale chips.  Oh yes, they are tasty.  You can get creative and splash them with just a little olive oil and Himalayan (or Celtic) salt, or create your own flavor of kale chips.  They are a healthy little oven-baked snack.  OR, you can first pay out $7 or $8 for a small bag of kale chips at your local organic market before you make your own.  However you want to make it, the versatility of kale is amazing.  I can’t wait to see what other nutritional benefits of kale are studied in the near future.  


Handy Dandy Eggs

You walk into the supermarket and see a wide assortment of eggs–there’s organic, free-range, cage-free, standard Grade A, and whatever other labels are popular these days.  Many people don’t think that there’s any difference between organic and non-organic eggs–aside from the price.((Kids especially have no particular favorite when it comes to smashing them all over your kitchen floor–which just happens to be hardwood–now do they?))  Have you ever thought about nutrient content of eggs?  Why do you see eggs with added Omega 3?  How do they get added Omega 3, anyhow, if eggs are supposed to contain them already?  Are eggs really contributors to high cholesterol like the whole medical association of western medicine wants you to believe?

I never really gave much thought to the nutrient content of eggs.  When I buy my organic free-range eggs, I know that I love the deeper yolk color and general flavor.  I know eggs are healthy for you, but I’m not a big fan of eggs so I don’t eat them often (well, unless you include baking with them).  Some nutrients found in eggs include Omega 3, Vitamins D, A, and betacarotene (you know, the stuff you find in carrots), folic acid, B12, lutein, and zeaxanthin (in fact, egg yolks are one of the richest sources of these two antioxidant vitamins).  You will also find cholesterol and saturated fat in eggs.  Now how much of the latter two you find will depend upon the egg you purchase.

Before you set off on your grocery store run, let’s look at some of the labels and what they mean.  You have standard Grade A eggs, for starters.  This label is a complete sham. It is voluntary, it is unregulated, it is a black spot on the USDA procedures.  All this does is allow egg farmers to boost the price of their eggs.  Then you have free-run or free-range eggs.  This is also a bit of a sham if you aren’t familiar with the farmer you get them from.  As this Ohio Pork & Poultr article depicts, free-run/free-range eggs are merely just telling the consumer that the hens are outside their cages some of the time.  Not necessarily in pastures to roam as they should, they could just be roaming on cement floors for 5 minutes, and be deemed free-range/free-run. ((To be fair, there are good organic farms that label their eggs as free-range which are actually cage-free.)) Not exactly what a consumer thinks when they see the price and the title, now is it??  I was quite honestly shocked, myself, at reading that little tidbit of information.  Now what about cage-free/pastured eggs?  These are the “Maserati” of the egg industry.  These are organic farms that truly care about the health of their animals ((as do some quality free-rangers)).  These hens are foraging in grass, eating insects, catching some rays, enjoying the good life, and the nutrient quality of these eggs proves it.

According to Mother Earth News and the Ohio Pork and Poultry article linked above,  the cage-free eggs have up to 10x the Omega 3 content versus factory-farmed egg (which has to add Omega 3 to their grains), anywhere from 3-6x more vitamin D (in fact two of the cage-free eggs will net you at least 63% RDA of vitamin D), 66% more vitamin A, up to 7x more betacarotene, higher folic acid and vitamin B12 content,1/3 LESS cholesterol, 1/4 LESS saturated fat in comparison to factory farmed eggs.  One of nature’s little powerhouses, there are even studies that are starting to show up which link the good eggs with the job of helping to protect from cancer.  Your own little experiment can show you: fry up a factory vs cage-free egg in your own breakfast one morning.  Can you see how watery the factory egg white is?  Does that even look appetizing?  Maybe to some, but not to me.  

The old adage “you get what you pay for” is very true for pretty much any food we eat today, eggs included. Why pay the big farms for eggs produced by hens whose beaks are chopped off because they are in such close quarters the farmers are afraid they’ll peck each other to death?  Why pay for farmers to add all sorts of unknown antibiotics into the grain feed of their factory hens because they are sick and dying from such unstable pen conditions?  Why pay the big guys for the liquid starvation of their hens so they all molt together?  If you have a conscience and truly want to experience the nutrient density of an egg, visit your local organic farmer–you’ll get it cheaper buying directly from them vs buying in the store.  Most of these farmers will be more than happy to show you where their hens are feeding and housed. 



I’m back! … =)

DSC_0586 Doesn’t this just invoke feelings of relaxation? This is what you have to picture when you have FOUR boys running and screaming around the house at 9:00 am. I feel for the tenants, really I do. I mean, it’s super loud here, and I’ve been downstairs when they were running around the house — let me just say, we have the most awesome tenants.

Now, I’m one to speak out about organic living, and how healthy it is for you and the environment. I was reading an article in Nature’s Fare magazine” the good life” about the depleting salmon stocks. This was such an eye opener! I never really thought there was much difference between farmed and wild salmon. We used to have a stocked trout pond in Ontario, so this is what I imagined salmon farms to be. Except they are not. Well, you do have some that are fresh water farmed, which is definitely healthier option if you choose farmed salmon, but little did I know how the government of Canada has brought about their silencing tactics that would make Monsanto proud.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) gave permission to have geneticist Dr. Kristi Miller test the coastal salmon and see if they were carrying any of a few different diseases that are related to die-offs of salmon stock. These are the salmon version of the flu called ISA–infections salmon anemia virus (who knew salmon could catch the flu), and the parvovirus (salmon leukemia). Her findings astounded the science world. When she reported that it was the parvovirus that had a very strong link to the dying of the salmon stocks, she was immediately side-railed and told never to report her findings. Not only this, she was financially threatened, which means that she would not receive any more grant money to do her research.

Her case isn’t the only one. Another scientist named Alexandra Morton, a marine biologist, was doing a study of her own on the amount of dead fish that she was observing along salmon run routes. She decided to take samples of these fish and send them off to the only two labs in the world which are recognized for the testing for ISA — a lab in Norway, and a lab in PEI. The results showed that the same virus first found in European stocks had been found in these Pacific coast salmon. What happened to her was this: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency took it upon themselves to denounce her findings. Not only did they do this, they also started a discredit campaign against the nation’s lab in PEI–which has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a go-to lab for ISA testing. Why in the world would Canada’s government organizations do this?? Why are they taking on Monsanto style tactics?? Money.

There is a new business in farmed salmon which can bring in millions or more for the government. Although the DFO’s primary purpose is supposed to be protecting ocean life, they are caught between a rock and a hard place. In order to get government money, they have to do what the government tells them to do, even if this means decrying excellent resource work such as that by Dr. Miller and Ms. Morton. By pushing farmed salmon as equal in nutrient content to wild salmon, there is a new market for farmed salmon being born.

So, back to something I alluded to earlier: the difference between wild and farmed salmon. Now, many of us don’t really think that there is much of a difference, but there is. Farmed salmon are being held in mesh netting so they don’t travel up or down stream. They are smaller in size compared to the wild salmon, and they carry numerous viruses and bacteria which wild salmon are not accustomed to. The wild salmon at spawning time will catch these alien bacteria and viruses, then ultimately die. There are three zones that were determined with the help of Native fisherman, environmentalists, and the DFO. The green zone means that this area is good for farming salmon, the yellow zone means that the farmed salmon need to be kept under a very watchful eye, and the red zone means it’s a no-go for farming salmon. What’s happening is that many of the farmed salmon you see in the store has been farmed in the RED zone. This is the most dangerous zone for wild and farmed to co-exist, yet there is not a single person within the DFO actually enforcing these farming zones. If there were, then you would see less red zone farming, and more green zone farming with respect to salmon.

So, as a salmon consumer, you have to wonder what in the world can you do to help? First of all, check for the Oceanwise label. The Oceanwise program is a pet project of the Vancouver Aquarium with the primary goal of giving restaurants, retailers, and consumers a knowledgeable choice in their fish consumption. Another great program is the Sea Choice program, which is more of an educational program that enables consumers to make a more informed choice with the consumption of sea food. BUT, if you want an easier guide, look for wild Alaskan salmon. This is the most sustainable choice for salmon. There is a yellow light on wild British Columbian salmon because the stocks are low in numbers and there is concern in the marine world regarding these–primarily sockeye, Chinook, and Coho. Farmed salmon is really a big no-no, but if you feel the need to purchase them, look for freshwater farmed salmon. If you aren’t sure, ask the store if they know the source(s) of the salmon. You don’t want to be eating diseased salmon. It is along the same lines of eating diseased beef, pork, and poultry. The affects on human system by diseased salmon is not yet fully realized. Do you want to be part of that experiment, too?

((Check out this recent news article on the farm salmon business   by Mother Earth News.))

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