It’s not too soon to think “Summer CSA!”

CSA basketYes, I know the snow is still flying for some of us, but my friends, it is NOT too soon to think “summer CSA”.  It’s just the right time, in fact, because many CSAs have already opened up reservations for summer participation.

But first things first!… you know about CSAs, right?

If not, here’s a little bit of explanation:  CSAs, or community supported agriculture, are the best way to share in the bounty of the freshest, organic, locally-grown produce and foods.  It’s a partnership between farms and community individuals who support the growing and production of food.  Members “purchase” a share of the harvest and are usually on a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of fruits and vegetables (and sometimes even dairy, meats and grains).CSA harvest

It’s the perfect scenario… you get fresh and organic foods, support local growers and farms, AND avoid the CO2 emissions created to bring your food from other parts of the country… or world, for that matter!

Last year we participated in a CSA with Fresh Fork Market.  If you’re lucky enough to be in Cleveland, take a look because… yes, they’re taking reservations NOW!  Last year, during the 22 weeks of summer, our CSA participants sampled over 350 different products from 62 local farmers.  At year’s end, Fresh Fork proudly spent over $300K with local farmers! THAT gives me the warm fuzzies!  Not only was I serving my family fabulous, organic food but we ALSO helped generously support local farmers and the local economy.  Everyone wins in that scenario!

straw1If you aren’t in Cleveland but want to find a CSA in your area check out Local Harvest or Biodynamics to put you in the right direction.

Get on board, sign-up, eat organic and support your farmers… I promise, you won’t regret it!

(These are our strawberries from last year… NO methyl iodide included!)  🙂

“Certified Organic” vs. “Organic Ingredients”: the difference

organic slProduct labels can be tricky… in fact, they can be a bit deceptive.

My recent post about knowing the difference between “Unscented and Fragrance-Free” got some surprised comments.  I hadn’t even known the difference until I uncovered that tidbit and got a little schooling of my own!

Another label that can often cause confusion is the organic label.  It’s easy to be misled about what’s contained in the product and tricky labeling doesn’t help.

Here is one thing you should know… the difference between Certified Organic and Organic Ingredients.  These are the facts:

  • “Certified Organic” – this means that all ingredients contained are 100% organic.  Simple as that. This is the label you WANT to unsure
  • “Organic Ingredients” – this actually means that only 70% of the ingredients are actually organic.  The other 30% is not.  Even a label saying “100% Organic Ingredients” is misleading. While that 70% is 100% organic, you still have that 30% that is not organic at all.
  • (By the way, if it says “Contains Organic Ingredients” that means less than 70% is organic, and you have no idea what that organic percentage might be!)

Tricky, tricky labels.  But if you know what the labels mean, you’ll never be misled.

How does your organic milk “rate”?

We’ve been exclusively organic milk drinkers since our daughter was old enough to drink milk (8+ years and counting!).  I’ve written about milk numerous times on topics that include the benefits of organic milk, comparing organic to natural milk, as well as reading beyond the organic label.

milkWhile I believe that the benefits of organic milk are indisputable, I recently learned that there is yet another side of the story.  Do you ever wonder how ethical those organic dairy farms are (in terms of everything from how they treat their milk producing cows, to how they acquire the milk, to their overall business practices)?

Well, The Cornucopia Institute set out to find the answers.  I was surprised to learn that our “former” milk of choice (Horizon) chose not to participate (hmm?), but I was happy to learn that our current milk of choice (Organic Valley) rated “four cows” out of a possible five.  It’s great to know that while we’re consuming our organic milk, we’ve also made a smart choice in supporting a trustworthy brand that rates high on the “cow scorecard”.cow

Want to know how your organic milk rates? You can find the scorecard by clicking here (best to worst, or alphabetically).  If you want a full explanation about the ratings you can find more information by clicking here.

I hope you’re not disappointed by what you find, but if you are, now you know how to truly find a happy cow farm!

Got milk?… well, now you can GET MILK with peace of mind.

Choose good, organic eggs… for the “health” of it!

eggzEggs have been getting a lot of bad press these days, and for good reason.  Two massive egg farms, Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farm (that house 7.5 million(!) egg producing hens kept in cramped, filthy conditions), are to blame for over 1,500 people contracting salmonella poisoning.  I can’t say that I’m surprised.

Research has shown that hens in these farms are more likely to produce contaminated eggs than free-range and organic hens simply due to the horrendous conditions where they are forced to spend their days and the cheap, unnatural grains they are fed, that often include the bi-products of other animals.  Add to that the antibiotic use on these poor hens (that destroys the healthy microflora in their systems) and, you guessed it… even more susceptible to contamination.

We always eat organic, free-range eggs due in part to this exact reason, PLUS when you consider that organic eggs are said to have three times more omega-3 fatty acids, twice as much vitamin E and 40% more vitamin A than non-organic eggs, it seems like a no-brainer, regardless of a little extra expense.chikns

In a previous post I also reviewed all of the confusing terms that go along with egg selection and you can take a look by clicking here!  Eggs are truly an amazing source of protein and vitamin D, but when they’re organic you know that they are produced without antibiotics, steroid and growth hormones too!  Those are certainly some things and I would prefer to keep out of my family’s diet!

So be a “good egg”… buy good eggs, consume good eggs… and yes, I mean the organic kind!

Does organic food taste better?

Last night while having a family dinner on our back patio (in the middle of a discussion of our pending “kids’-back-to-school dread”) my husband and I had the following conversation:

(Husband:) “This dinner is fantastic!”dinner
(MGG:) “Yea, it’s good!”
(Husband:) “No, really.  It’s fantastic!  Is it all organic?”
(MGG:) “Well, of course, honey.”
(Husband:) “No, seriously.  Never buy anything that isn’t organic again!”
(MGG:) “I try not to.  It is good.”
(Husband:)Honestly, organic food is amazing!”
(MGG:) “I agree!”  (*smile*)

Have you ever found yourself in one of these conversations or at least thought about the same thing yourself?  Well, I have thought about it and, obviously, we’ve discussed it as well, and I couldn’t agree with my husband more.  I DO think it tastes fantastic!

orgnic signI’ve never seen research that would either prove or disprove our belief, but I can’t help believing it is true.  Not so much with organic grains or more processed foods, but especially with fresh fruits, veggies, meats and dairy.

Somehow I can’t help but believe that when pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones are left OFF of and OUT of our foods, they are much more “as nature intended”… unaltered, unmodified and, simply, more natural.

Maybe they aren’t more nutritious, but when they taste better and don’t have harmful additives, aren’t they just… well… better?

In the words of my husband… “Really… seriously… honestly?”… what do YOU think?