Why switch to organic coffee?… (a “greener cup of java”)

coff beansOne of my most recent “switches” was when I started to buy only organic coffee a few months ago.  I don’t really have a reason for not buying organic coffee sooner, except that (while I was worried about my to-go cup) I really hadn’t given the content of the cup much thought… no, not a good excuse, but an honest one…

There are a multitude of reasons I’m happy that I finally made this change… and they’re big reasons, so consider these facts:

  • Organic coffee is grown without herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic growth chemicals, therefore these chemicals will NOT be part of your morning java.  Avoiding these chemicals is also much safer for farmers and workers, and will prevent contamination of the soil, water sources and surrounding environment.
  • Organic coffee prohibits the use of sewage sludge as a fertilizer.  Yes, you heard that right… sewage sludge.  Every disgusting thing you can imagine that ends up in sewage can end up in the sludge that is added to coffee crops for fertilizer.
  • Organic coffee cannot contain genetically modified organisms or use ionizing radiation (both common in non-organic coffee production!).
  • Organic coffee can be shade grown, so large areas of trees do not need to be cleared for this crop, and wildlife and their habitat will also be spared.coff cup

If you think it might be easier to just give-up coffee (no, never!), remember that there are also health benefits of coffee… it actually contains powerful antioxidants and is believed to help protect a body against diabetes, liver disease, gallstones, and even the onset of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s…

I know there are times when we all think we might go a little crazy without our coffee(!), but the important thing is:  you want the benefit without the harmful “extras” and practices.

Organic coffee is the healthier, greener way to serve up a much better cup of joe.

Eggs and all the confusing “terms” that go with them…

eggzEvery time I visit the organic dairy case, I get more and more overwhelmed by the classifications and categorizations of eggs.  Too many terms… too many confusing terms!

They can also be misleading and aren’t always as “dreamy” as they might seem, so take a look at the real deal on these most common terms in the   “egg world”:

  • Organic – these eggs come from hens that are free of hormones, steroids and antibiotics.  They are fed an organic, vegetarian, pesticide-free diet.  Organic eggs are said to include three times more omega-3 fatty acids, twice as much vitamin E and 40% more vitamin A than non-organic eggs.  This label is regulated by the USDA.
  • Cage-free – while cage-free sounds more humane, the reality isn’t always as great as it sounds.  While the hens aren’t confined to tiny individual cages, they are often placed in much larger common areas with other hens, but have no more individual space than a single cage… so no, cage-free does not mean they have ample space to spread their wings either.  Also keep in mind that this “label” is not regulated and cage-free does not mean organic unless it says so.
  • Free-range – these hens are raised with “access” to the outdoors, but sadly it doesn’t mean they spend their life prancing around the grassy hillside.  The reality is that they still spend much of their life in a cage-free environment, but are supposed get some time outdoors.  Since this term isn’t regulated eitchikn field2her, some reports say that free-range hens may actually spend little to NO time outdoors despite the claim.  Again, free-range does not mean organic unless it says so.

There are plenty of other terms –- “natural” which essentially means nothing (all eggs are natural!), “pasture-raised” which means they do peck around outdoors or “grass-fed” meaning they do get outdoors and eat grass, insects and all that nature intended (so these eggs contain the most nutrients, but you will pay for them… dearly!), “certified humane” meaning they live indoors, but are confined much less densely –- so all you can do is know what the terms mean and choose what matters to you.

I haven’t even touched on conventionally-raised hens but believe me, they are often fed cheap, disgusting grains and foods (including the by-products of other animals), kept in the smallest of cages with deplorable conditions, and have the tips of their beaks burned off so they don’t peck one another… sure, the dozen eggs you purchase may be 99 cents, but I cannot condone or support those practices.

We’re an “organic, free-range” family because, aside from raising my own chickens (no, not likely!) or knowing someone who does (unfortunately, I don’t!), I’m hoping that the eggs come from somewhat happy chickens that maintained a healthy diet and drug-free life!

(There you have it…  and I didn’t say “egg-cellent”, even once!…)

When a green mom needs an organic cocktail…

The chores are done, the day’s “to do list” is complete, the kids are asleep and you need to relax… drinks anyone?

I’m sorganic cocktail bookure many of you are waving frantically enough that I’ll feel my monitor shaking!  I, for one, am always up for a nice, new, green adventure that goes beyond the daily routine of regulating water and energy usage, keeping harsh chemicals at bay, reusable bags and recycling!

Thanks to Paul Abercrombie, I can look forward to an adult beverage adventure in his new book Organic, Shaken and Stirred.  It’s the first book of its kind, full of unique creations and, the photos are so deliciously tempting, I want to lick the pages… and then grab my car keys and head to the store!  (Okay, so a bike would be greener transportation, but balancing the bottles can be tricky!)

In all seriousness, just like all of the foods and beverages we consume, cocktails made with organic alcohol and ingredients also mean organic growing methods that are less harmful for growers, better for our environment and more sustainable. (See, when you host an “Organic Mojito Night” you’re actually being environmental!)

Speaking of… I love, love, love Mojitos… so this speaks to me…moj drink

Prickly Pear Mojito

  • 2 ounces organic rum
  • 3 organic mint leaves
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed organic lime juice
  • ¼ ounce organic prickly pear juice (canned or fresh)
  • splash of club soda

Combine the first four ingredients in an ice cube-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into an ice cube-filled glass. Top with the club soda and give a quick stir.

Mmmm… can you already taste yourself relaxing?

Now, the next time you host a party, whip up a tasty concoction for a few friends, or simply settle in for the night with your beloved, skip all of those commercial, syrupy mixers and eco-unfriendly ingredients, and instead… get Organic, Shaken and Stirred.

Little green changes… big green difference.

go greenThis past weekend I actually recognized how far I’ve come in my pursuit of greening my daily life.  Without even realizing it, I made decisions that I recognized have become automatic rather than a conscious decision.  I’m not sure what made me take special notice of how far I’ve come in the past few years, but I realized “you’ve come a long way, baby!”…

  • I shopped organic, big time.  I avoided high fructose corn syrup, excess sugar and hydrogenated oils, and skipped the frozen food aisle entirely.  I used reusable shopping bags and reusable mesh produce bags too!fruit shopping
  • I had to buy cups for an event at our daughter’s school.  I bought paper cups.  I would have preferred something reusable, but I needed about 75 and couldn’t round up that much… but plastic or styrofoam were never a consideration!
  • I bought a new shower gel, skipped the regular soap aisle and went straight for organics.  Ended up with “Yes To Carrots”… good stuff!
  • After my husband accidentally sent a big bowl of uncooked (organic!) scrambled eggs plummeting into the cabinets and floor, I did a clean-up with a dishtowel and Skoy cloths.  I made everything sparkly clean with a spray of vinegar and water… not one paper towel used!
  • I did a leaf clean-up – no leaf-blower, no lawn mower… just a rake, a tarp (to drag the leaves down the ravine instead of bagging), ME and some great exercise… and the kids playing for hours outdoors!yes 2 crrts
  • I prepared a meal that included an organic roast, organic carrots (it was a carrot-kind-of-weekend, apparently!) and organic potatoes.  No steroids, hormones or pesticides for us!
  • I did some laundry with all of my beloved, eco-friendly Method products.
  • I had to grin… my son actually noticed that my husband left the light on in the shower and reminded him “don’t forget to turn off the lights, Dad!” (The “green” apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!)

I realize that I am truly practicing what I preach and it wasn’t because I knew I should; it was because that’s what I “do”.  It’s what I know, and I can “live” with that!

The FULL story of pesticides and produce.

The other day I wrote a post about pesticides and using sea salt and water to wash fruits and vegetables before we consume them to remove those dangerous pesticides.

pesticidesWell, a close, personal friend, Will, was bold enough to call a foul.  He is very passionate about the topic and went so far as to call the post “lame”… (ouch!).

I’ll first say that the post was written in response to a few readers’ prior comments that they didn’t feel the added expense of organics was in their budget and had limited access to affordable and available organics because of where they lived geographically.  While I wasn’t attempting to mislead anyone or act irresponsibly, and this sea salt and water wash can remove the pesticides from the surface of produce, this is (admittedly) only part of the story.

The reality is that you absolutely cannot prevent consuming pesticides unless you are willing to invest in organics… period.

The fact of the matter is also that pesticides aren’t sprayed on the produce just prior to harvesting; they are applied constantly, being spraying and absorbed all throughout the growing process.  No amount of soaking and scrubbing can eliminate that.  This “solution” isn’t the solution!organic sl

And while we continue to buy conventionally-grown produce, we are actually (financially) supporting this farming practice, therefore lessening the demand for organics, slowing widespread distribution AND keeping their cost high.  All the while these pesticides are harmful to us as consumers, extremely dangerous to farm workers and contaminate our ground and surface water, as well as wildlife and the environment… a cycle that goes on and on unless practices change… dramatically. Pesticides (and herbicides) are simply bad news all around.

So, I’ve said all along that this “greening my life” would be a journey, mistakes included.  But now you know the FULL story… supporting organic farming is the only true option for an abundance of reasons.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program… hopefully with any further lame posts excluded! 🙂