Tag Archive for: ‘organic’
What Constitutes Organic food

What Constitutes Organic food and what foods are best eaten that way

Yesterday I posted more reasons to buy and eat organic, but I didn’t explain what organic is and which foods benefit us most to be eaten that way.

Simply, organic farmers don’t use synthetic chemicals to fertilize or synthetic pesticides to control weeds or bugs.  They use mulch as a weed barrier and natural methods to stop pests.  But of course its never that simple.

The department of agriculture says that only products can be labeled 100 per cent organic if they are completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.  If the tag says only “organic” it must be at least 95 percent organic.  To confuse us more “Made with organic ingredients” are products containing at least  70 percent organic ingredients, but the official organic seal can’t be used on those products.  The USDA not only has strict standards for organic farming, it also inspects organic farms to assure their standards are being met.

The following are the 5 steps to Organic certification.- click here

Characteristics of Organic Farms:

Organic vegetable farms minimize the kind and amount of fertilizers and pesticides used to produce a crop as their overall goal. Emphasis is placed on long term planning based on information regarding crop pest life cycles, soil conditioning, extensive evaluation of ecological relationships, field conditions, and, options for management of these variables in a given field or on a given farm. According to the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, there are three basic characteristics that define an organic farm:

1. – Soil conditioning is maintained through the heavy use of composted and naturally occurring plant and animal material incorporated into the soil profile; green manure and cover crops, and, crop rotation.

2. – Soil fertility is depended upon the continuing activity of minor organisms such as earthworms and bacteria to digest organic matter and convert it to compounds available to plants.

3. – Pest control is advanced by “healthy” soil, plant resistance, selective and limited use of pesticides that poise little or no adverse effect to the soil, crop, environment and human health.

Beware of the top 10 foods most likely to retain the most pesticides- always buy organic

  1.  Strawberries
  2.  Bell peppers
  3.  Spinach
  4.  Cherries
  5.  Peaches
  6.  Foreign-grown cantaloupe
  7. Celery
  8.  Apples
  9.  Apricots
  10.  Green Beans

The following are safer because they don’t absorb much pesticide or are normally peeled before eating.  These aren’t necessary to be bought organic yet.

  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocados
  3. Bananas
  4. Broccoli
  5. Cabbage
  6. Kiwi
  7. Mango
  8. Onions
  9. Papaya
  10. Pineapple

Organic Beef

To raise cattle organically the farmer must meet the health conditions and natural behavior of the animal in nature.  What the heck does that mean.  I call BS on that.  Many of these animals have been domestically raised for hundreds of years.  So this is a fine line but….

Organic livestock must be given access to the outdoors, frest air, water, sunshine, grass and pasture and must be fed 100 percent organic feed.  Any shelter provided must be designed to allow the animal comfort and the opportunity to exercise.  Darn, I’d like to live organically too.  Organic practices prohibit feeding animal parts of any kind to animals that by nature eat a vegetarian diet.  Yes, that is done in feed lots to increase the protein to the animal.  In fact that is what is believed to have caused “mad cow disease”.

To top that “national organic standards require oversight of production and handling systems.  Production and handling operations must undergo onsite inspections and have farm or operating plans in place in order to be certified organic.  The standards also specify feed requirements, including what is and is not allowed.

Organic production requires that livestock cannot be fed plastic pellets for roughage, or formulas containing urea or manure.  They cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones.  For an animal to be raised for organic beef its mother must have been fed organic feed for at least the last third of gestation.”

If you’d like specific information go to

Conclusions and recommendations

When I started this blog I was extremely open minded about “normal” eating practices.  Knowledge is sometimes dangerous or at least expensive.  I can’t help but to completely recommend eating organic vegetables and beef.  Actually it seems that we’d be stupid not to. – jughandle

Soil and the Organic Garden

According to Wikipedia:

Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotationgreen manurecompost and biological pest control. Organic farming uses fertilizers and pesticides but excludes or strictly limits the use of manufactured (synthetic) fertilizerspesticides (which include herbicidesinsecticides and fungicides), plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibioticsfood additivesgenetically modified organisms,[1] human sewage sludge, and nanomaterials.[2]

Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based in large part on the standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), an international umbrella organization for organic farming organizations established in 1972.[3] IFOAM defines the overarching goal of organic farming as:

“Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved…”


Apparently the soil in an organic farm or garden MUST be turned and amended and the crops MUST be rotated to insure problem free growth.

Crop rotation is one of the oldest and most effective strategies for organic pest control and healthy soil culture in your organic garden. Specifically, it means the planned order of vegetables or fruits in garden beds; avoiding planting the same crop in the same space for a two or three year period; and knowing what family your edibles belong to.

Where the same vegetables or fruits are grown in the same patch of soil successively, soil depletion and pest infestation may follow. As organic gardeners don’t use insecticides, preventing pest infestations must be controlled by other means.

Many soil dwelling insects are fairly immobile. Take wireworms for instance. They love to feast on sweet potatoes and carrots. If you plant those edibles in the sameraised bed every year, wireworms will build up in the soil and in a few seasons you’ll have a terrible infestation on your hands. But if you follow carrots or sweet potatoes the following season with a non-root vegetable like lettuce or spinach, the wireworms will lose their food source and will be incapable of multiplying.

The same idea holds true for diseases such as tomato blight. If your tomatoes were infected with blight last year, fungal spores from the blight may overwinter in your soil. Planting tomatoes the following year in the farthest garden bed from the blight infested bed will minimize the chances that your tomatoes will pick up the diseaseagain.

Crop rotation also spares depletion of your garden soil. Every plant requires unique amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium (N-P-K) and other trace minerals. When the same plant makes repeated demands of the same patch of soil, the elements it requires are quickly depleted and may take years to replace. For this reason, heavy composting in between crops is recommended for soil health and using a soil test kit formonitoring levels of N-P-K.

Rotating your vegetables and fruit also greatly reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides. In my organic garden, I have no need for pesticides at all – there simply are no infestations – and I only use a small amount of organic fertilizer, but large amounts of compost.

For more information on crop rotation and identifying which families your vegetables are in, check out this explanation on crop rotation from OrganicLife.

crop rotation potatoes Don’s follow potatoes with potatoes in your garden.


What to use in your soil?

Organic Shopping is catching on!

It’s working, organic shopping is catching on.  You are spending over $30 billion per year to avoid toxins in your food and over half of that spending is for organic food.

Other things to look for

In addition to the organic vegetable isle, you should be also looking for organic food in places you wouldn’t necessarily think of.

Hormone-Free Desserts

Normal ice-cream is produces from cows that are fed antibiotics, hormones, genetically engineered corn and soy.  Look for ice-cream labeled organic.  The cows will have to been fed a natural diet of grass and hay.  Their fat will contain heart-protecting and cancer preventing fat called CLA or conjugated linoleic acid.

Cage free chicken eggs

Most eggs found in your store are from chickens that are crammed into a small cage and fed hormones and antibiotics and are sprayed with insect spray.  The sales of organic eggs have doubled in the last few years.  Cage free and organically fed chickens are happier and produce healthier more nutritious eggs.

Shampoo and skin care

Just yesterday, the local news was informing us that women apply over 80 different chemicals to their bodies daily.  Men only 30.  I won’t list them all here but the most shocking to me was that lipstick contains lead.  Yes lead!  You are putting lead in your mouth, or at least on your mouth.  Shampoo is just as bad.  Look for organic products with skin care too.  NATURAL or ALL NATURAL means absolutely NOTHING!

Here is just a taste of what you are getting:

Isopropyl Alcohol– inhalation or ingestion of the vapor may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, narcosis and coma.

Mineral oil- Baby oil is 100% mineral oil. This commonly used petroleum ingredient coats the skin just like plastic wrap. The skin’s natural immune barrier is disrupted as this plastic coating inhibits its ability to breathe and absorb the natural Moisture Factor (moisture and nutrition). The skin’s ability to release toxins is impeded by this “plastic wrap”, which can promote acne and other disorders. This process slows down skin function and normal cell development causing the skin to prematurely age.

PEG – This is an abbreviation for poly-ethylene glycol that is used in making cleansers to dissolve oil and grease as well as thicken products. Because of their effectiveness, PEG’s are often used in caustic spray-on oven cleaners and yet are found in many personal care products. PEG’s contribute to stripping the natural Moisture Factor, leaving the immune system vulnerable. They are also potentially carcinogenic.

Propylene Glycol – basically antifreeze –  There is no difference between the PG used in industry and the PG used in personal care products. It is used in industry to break down protein and cellular structure (what the skin is made of) yet is found in most forms of make-up, hair products, lotions, after shave- deodorants, mouthwashes and toothpaste. It is also used in food processing. Because of its ability to quickly penetrate the skin, the EPA requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles when working with this toxic substance. The Material Safety Data Sheets warn against skin contact, as PG has systemic consequences such as brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities. Consumers are not protected not is there a warning label on products such as stick deodorants, where the concentration is greater than that in most industrial applications.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – Used as detergents and surfactants, these closely related compounds are found in car wash soaps, garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers. Yet both SLS and SLES are used more widely as one of the major ingredients in cosmetics, toothpaste, hair conditioner and about 90% of all shampoos and products that foam. Mark Fearer in an article, Dangerous Beauty, says “…in tests, animals that were exposed to SLS experienced eye damage, along with depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation and corrosion and death”. According to the American College of Toxicology states both SLS and SLES can cause malformation in children’s eyes. Other research has indicated SLS may be damaging to the immune system, especially within the skin. Skin layers may separate and inflame due to its protein denaturing properties. It is possibly the most dangerous of all ingredients in personal care products. Research has shown that SLS when combined with other chemicals can be transformed into nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogens, which causes the body to absorb nitrates at higher levels that eating nitrate-contaminated food.” According to the American College of Toxicity report, “SLS stays in the body for up to five days…” Other studies have indicated that SLS easily penetrates through the skin and enters and maintains residual levels in the heart, the liver, the lungs and the brain. This poses serious questions regarding its potential health threat through its use in shampoos, cleansers and toothpaste. Animals that were exposed to SLS experienced eye damage, along with depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation and corrosion and death.

Chlorine – According to Doris J. Rapp, M.D., author of Is This Your Child’s World?, exposure to chlorine in tap water, showers, pool, laundry products, cleaning agents, food processing, sewage systems and many others, can effect health by contributing to asthma, hay fever, anemia, bronchitis, circulatory collapse, confusion, delirium, diabetes, dizziness, irritation of the eye, mouth, nose, throat, lung, skin and stomach, heart disease, high blood pressure and nausea. It is also a possible cause of cancer. Even though you will not see Chlorine on personal care product labels, it is important for you to be aware of the need to protect your skin when bathing and washing your hair.

and it goes on and one – jughandle

Organic Manifesto | Why We All Need an Organic Manifesto | Rodale News

Why We All Need an Organic Manifesto

In her book Organic Manifesto, Maria Rodale explains why demanding organic is a much-needed solution to protect our health and heal our planet. The following is another great article from

 Choosing Organic food protects not just us, but the environment


Choosing food grown with organic methods keeps toxic chemicals out of the soil, and out of your body.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Organic matters, to all of us. Red state, blue state, churchgoer or atheist, soccer mom or single bachelor, what our society does to the soil (or allows to be done to it) directly affects our health. Sure, eating organic has long been a battle cry of environmentalists trying to protect the land, but as more and more science is telling us, we need to eat organic to save ourselves. As Maria Rodale, CEO of Rodale Inc. and author of the book Organic Manifesto, points out, “the planet will be fine without us.” We’re the ones in trouble if things don’t change.

Rodale, a third-generation advocate for organic farmers and farming practices, spent the last two years poring over peer-reviewed scientific research, traveling all over the country to meet with and learn about chemical and organic farmers, and interviewing the world’s leading environmental health experts. What she found is that we’re all living in a “great chemical experiment in which we are all guinea pigs.”

The warnings in Organic Manifesto apply to you if you are:

A parent.

Do you know of any mother who would purposefully feed her child a plateful of food contaminated with residue that could lead to early puberty, ADHD, and increased cancer risk? How about a glass of poison-spiked water, or meat and dairy products raised in a way that makes our medicines useless?

The levels of atrazine, a common farm crop weed killer, routinely spike in drinking water and are linked to learning disabilities in children, miscarriages, and fertility problems, along with the feminization of males. Other recent research has linked the chemical to the castration of male frogs that live in atrazine-polluted waters, raising questions about the chemical’s effects on human development. And there have been huge jumps in the number of cases of ADHD, autism, asthma, diabetes, and childhood obesity. “Scientists can’t explain why the number of children with food allergies has increased 18 percent in the last decade,” Rodale writes. “Is it a coincidence that the prevalence of these problems has increased as we have increased the use of chemicals to grow our food?”

A farmer.

Chemical farmers face all the health problems listed above, but also suffer in other ways. They are lied to by chemical companies like Monsanto, who convince them they need genetically engineered seeds and toxic sprays to increase yields, when this really isn’t the case at all. Pesticides kill all the beneficial life in the soil that help store carbon (a climate change solution), retain water (reducing runoff and flooding during storms and storing more water for times of drought), and keep plants healthy and more resilient against pests and diseases. United Nations studies have found that organic farming methods increase yields over expensive and intensive chemical methods, even in places like food-starved Africa. Organic farmers also earn more livable wages, according to a USDA survey.

As Rodale points out in Organic Manifesto, perhaps nowhere is the sad case of chemical farmers more evident than in India, where desperate farmers, nearly run out of business because of U.S. farming subsidies, turn to “magic” GM (genetically modified) seeds. “After the first year, they find out that it costs much more to maintain their crops due to the ever-increasing prices of seeds and chemicals,” Rodale writes. “Yet they are still plagued by insects and, like all promises of magic, the yields are disappointing at best. Before long, the money lenders are knocking on their doors and there is not enough revenue from the crops to pay the debts.”

“More than 160,000 Indian cotton farmers have killed themselves in the past decade,” she continues. “The favored method of suicide? Ingesting chemical pesticides.”

A grocery store owner—or shopper

Farmer’s markets are great places to find healthy, organic food, but not everyone has a farmer’s market or backyard organic garden available year-round. ( to find farm-direct organic food.) The more that consumers vote by purchasing organic food, the more stores will be inclined to carry it. If your grocery store’s organic section is scant, talk to the manager, lay out the health risks involved with chemical food, and tell him or her you’ll take your business elsewhere unless the situation improves.

A policy maker

Sales of organic food and products are growing, but they still represent just a sliver of the market. Complicating matters, the corporate domination of soy and corn seeds (ingredients in tons of food products) makes it impossible for all farmers to go organic tomorrow, even if they wanted to. There just aren’t enough non-GM seeds. Science has associated eating food grown from GM crops with an increase in food allergies and autoimmune disease, and even accelerated aging. And the GM crops are built to withstand very heavy sprayings of synthetic pesticides, chemicals that science has tied to everything from autism, ADHD, sexual development problems, some cancers, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and obesity.

To build up a bank of non-GM seeds in the next few years, we have to take action now, Rodale told an audience at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim last Friday. And that needs to start by ending broken farming policies that reward chemical farming methods that are poisoning us all and contributing to the healthcare crisis. Leading her list of “Five Solutions that Might Save Us,” Rodale demands a government ban of agricultural chemicals and GM seeds. “We need to demand that the government stop rewarding businesses that harm people and the planet by giving them subsidies and tax breaks and easing regulations,” she writes in Organic Manifesto.

Anyone else

Our existence—our children’s existence—depends on how we farm our food. Organic farming methods keep toxins out of our food and water, help mitigate global climate change, keep GM crops—which have barely even been tested for safety—out of the food supply, and can feed the world in a sustainable way. “We must restore the earth’s natural ability to absorb and store carbon,” writes Rodale. “Going organic will not only do that, it will also heal many other major ills as well: the poisoning of our children, our water, our wildlife, and our world.”

Visit to learn more about how buying and growing organic can improve your personal health and help heal the planet. You can also become a fan of Organic Manifesto on Facebook, and follow Rodale’s blog, Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen.

via Organic Manifesto | Why We All Need an Organic Manifesto | Rodale News.