Wednesday, 16 November 2016 00:00

The cashews you see in the bulk bins at your local grocery are not actually raw. Raw cashews can contain toxins that would make them inedible if not processed. Here is a video of the process.


Friday, 24 July 2015 00:00

Genetically Engineered Fruits and Vegetables

Do you eat food? If you’re trying to eat healthy, what aisle in the grocery store do you visit most? Like many people you’ll answer fresh fruits and vegetables. After all, they are pillars of health and simplicity. Maybe…

If you live in the United States, you might want to rethink your fruit and vegetable choices. Some fruits and vegetables are being genetically engineered (GE). Some fruits and vegetables have a higher risk at being GE than others. Unless your produce is labeled you have no idea if it’s genetically modified (GM) or not.

Telling the difference between Genetically Modified (GM) and Nature

As of July 2015, there are no mandatory GM labeling laws in the United States. What does this mean for the consumer? Simple, it means you have no clue how your food is grown, processed or handled. Some organic and non-gmo companies label their products as organic, certified organic and non-gmo. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables.

Since the laws don’t require disclosure of GM ingredients the consumer has to decide. The safest way to avoid GM products is to buy foods labeled non-gmo, certified organic or organic. This may not be feasible for many reasons. Another option for fresh produce is buying locally and talking to the farmer about their growing methods.


Products in the news

Consumers have heard countless numbers of reports about soybeans, cotton and corn being GM. After all, they are the top 3 GM crops on the USDA approved genetically engineered (GE) crop list. 89% or higher of these three crops are grown from genetically engineered seed each year.

In March of 2015 the USDA approved genetically engineered potatoes and apples to be grown for the market. When will these products hit our shelves? As a consumer we have no idea, but soon there will be genetically engineered potatoes and apples both in our grocery stores and restaurants. Apples are the second most popular fruit eaten in the United States. Potatoes are the number one vegetable eaten in America. That’s a large group of people affected by the new genetically modified apple and potato.

Current USDA approved GM Fruits and Vegetables

The following is a list of genetically engineered approved crops by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA,) as of February 2014. I’ve added potato and apple to the list for they were approved in February of 2015. This isn’t a complete list of genetically engineered products on the market, just ones you might find in your fresh fruit and vegetable aisle.

The list includes the following: apples, beans, carnations, eggplant, flax, corn, melons, papaya, plums, potatoes, soybean, yellow squash, zucchini, sugar beets, peppers, tomatoes and peanuts. Though peanuts aren’t a fruit or vegetable, I’ve included them because many stores keep fresh nuts in the produce area.

Staying informed, making the right decision for you.

Most days GM foods, pesticides and healthy food articles pop up in the news. Sometimes it seems those who care about their food get ignored and don’t have choices. You do have the choice of what foods you buy and eat every day. Consumers have dollar power and you need to use it. What do you think would happen to the genetically engineered potato if no one went to a fast food restaurant that served them? What would happen to the Organic Apple market if the majority of the population ate only organic apples? Things would change.


For those who want great healthy food without genetic alterations do two simple things. One - stay aware of what foods are genetically modified. Two - avoid the genetically altered foods in all forms. This means don’t buy or eat genetically modified products in their raw form such as corn on the cob, or any item that contains corn, corn starch, high fructose corn syrup etc. It may sound like a hard thing to do, but it’s not.

Here’s to eating safe and healthy.



Tuesday, 30 June 2015 00:00

6 Reasons to Go Organic

You read every ingredient on your food label before buying. You’re mindful about your food, environment and using your consumer dollars.

Once our food sources were pure and natural. People didn’t think about growing bigger, better, faster food. They concentrated on working with nature instead of altering it.  Things have changed in today’s food industry. There’s a breed of meat chickens that grows so quickly, it dies before reaching reproduction age. You’ll find reports of watermelons exploding in China, due to use of growth chemicals during the wet season.

What choices do we have for growing our food?

We can grow and raise everything ourselves. We can go to every farmer and producer inspecting how they raise our food. Or we can buy organic food.

organic chard (photo by Pandora Patterson)

Benefits to buying and eating organic food

1)     No pesticides or chemicals used during raising or processing:

For instance, an organic apple orchard doesn't get sprayed with pesticides to keep the apples looking great. The soil the apple tree grows in cannot have synthetic fertilizer to make it grow.  Next time you’re at the grocery store look at a non-organic apple. You can tell it’s not organic in several ways. The apples look almost perfect and appear to have a car wax shine.

Then, look at an organically grown apple in the store. The organic apple shines from a natural wax the tree produces to protect the apple.  The organic apples may not look perfect, but they’re healthy.  In “traditional” apple orchards trees get sprayed with pesticides. After picking, apples become power washed to “remove dusts and chemical residues”, which also removes the natural wax.  After washing, apples get a new coat of wax.  Do you suppose any leftover chemicals get sealed into the apple? You decide.

2)     No synthetic fertilizer:  

Man creates inorganic or synthetic fertilizer through different chemical processes. Organic growers use fertilizer made from recycled plant and dried animal matter known as compost. This means the organic farmer uses natural means to add nutrition to the soil.

3)     Only Non-GM (genetically modified) products in your food:

For fruits and vegetables this means from seed to table. For meat it means from pregnancy to table, except for chicken, which is from birth to table. 

The market introduced GM foods in 1994 to “help” the food industry.  The first was the Flavr Savr tomato which delayed ripening, adding shelf life to the tomato.  In theory this might sound fabulous, less waste. In reality, GM foods add pesticides, unnatural DNA and other organism to gain a benefit. These same altered DNA now enter our bodies, water systems and create unnecessary issues and concerns. Would you give your child a bottle of pesticides to drink, even if it was completely diluted and deemed “safe”?  I wouldn’t!

4)     Animal health and welfare:

Organic animals get raised in a humane and natural manner from birth to butcher.  This includes having space and living in the great outdoors, meaning animals act like animals. Cows on a pasture and chickens roaming. Animals can have grain, but only certified organic grain and hay from organic land.

5)     No artificial coloring or preservatives:

Consumers believe food should look a certain way. Read the ingredients on almost any non-organic food. You’ll see colored dyes such as Red #40 and preservatives. Coloring adds a specific look to your food, such as the greener color of pickles. Preservatives add shelf life to your food. Organic products use natural coloring such as beet juice. You may find tocopherols, created from vitamin E, added for freshness in organic foods. 


organic strawberries (photo by Jan Haveron)

6)     No antibiotics or growth hormones used in the raising of organic products:

This means you don’t have to worry about added hormones or antibiotics in your food, body or water supply.

Unless you can grow all your own food or talk to your food sources, doesn’t it just make sense to buy organic? If nothing else, eating organically grown foods gives you peace of mind.

Sunday, 15 March 2015 00:00

While USDA organic and certified non-GMO ingredients may cost more than their counterparts, more and more people are choosing to use them for a variety of reasons. With people becoming more aware and educated about genetically modified foods, many are choosing to buy certified organic or non-GMO produce, dairy, meat, and even ingredients for baking.

With increasing numbers of people purchasing non-GMO, new products are entering the market every day. King Arthur brand flours are all certified by a third party as non-GMO, Imperial Sugar and many others have begun releasing non-GMO pure cane sugar, and a variety of non-GMO and organic eggs are now available in most grocery stores. Other ingredients used in baking, such as nuts, dried fruits, extracts, and chocolate chips, are also becoming more widely available as organic and non-GMO products even though they may be a little more difficult to find.

Overall, it is becoming progressively easier to find places to buy non-GMO and organic ingredients to use when baking at home. Their prices can be slightly higher than alternative non-GMO and non-organic ingredients, but often times their prices are comparable and can even be competitive if they are on sale. I encourage everyone to seek out and try non-GMO and organic products, after all when you buy these products you are supporting sustainable agriculture, less use of pesticides and herbicides, and the general health and welfare of both humans and livestock. So do some research, know what you’re eating, and who knows maybe you’ll try organic, non-GMO products and never look back.

Give this cookie recipe a try:

Sunday, 01 March 2015 00:00

Environmental Working Group has long been an advocate for keeping our products safe. Their goal is to test products and inform the public about potential toxins. Their new "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce" is a great place to start when you are making choices in selecting produce. Take a look at their "Dirty Dozen Guide here: