What’s better than organic? Organic and grass-fed, at least when it comes to dairy. Our family tried to eat vegan for a couple months and quickly learned that we really just weren’t into soy-cheese. We now consume only organic cheese and in small quantities (many recipes taste just as good with half the cheese!) It is especially important to buy organic and clean fatty animal foods, since toxins like PCBs and dioxins accumulate in the fat of animals and especially in the concentrated fats of cheese.
I recently found a company that makes organic cheese from cows that have year-round access to pasture. The company is Rumiano Family and their cheeses are similar in price to other organic cheeses and quite tasty. This is what the back of the Rumiano cheese label says:
- Our milk comes from grass fed, AHA (American Humane) certified Jersey cows…. free-ranged and happy.
- Certified Organic and Kosher… complete traceability of all ingredients.
- No artificial hormones and pesticide-free… our milk is pure, fresh, and wholesome.
- Leading the industry as the first Non-GMO Project certified cheese maker.
- Created on the coastal pastures of Northern California.
- Low-impact sustainable milk production flows from the Pacific Terrace pastures to our Fromagerie to your table.
What is described here is honestly how all cheese should be made, but sadly it is not. So seek out companies like this one and support them! It’s better for you, for your family, for our earth, and it sends the strong message to larger companies that this is what consumers want. The government may not mandate it but our purchasing power can help dictate what big companies will do. Will your cheese and milk come from hormone-injected, industrial cows fed pesticide-laden feed, or from cows that feed on an organic, GMO free, grass diet and are treated humanely? The government wouldn’t ban BPA, but consumer buying power pushed almost all manufacturers of baby products to change their practices and offer BPA-free alternatives to stay competitive. Let’s do this with our food too!
Looks like the federal government is giving California conventional agriculture money to launch a campaign against the EWG’s campaign to bring awareness to consumers about pesticides on their produce (surely by now you’ve heard of the “dirty dozen“). Here is some information I just received via email from the EWG:
Our Shopper’s Guides to Pesticides – watch CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s report — has had such a big impact that powerful agribusiness interests and pesticide manufacturers have mounted a bizarre P.R. campaign trying to stop us from giving you good information about pesticide residues in food. The Alliance for Food and Farming — the group working to silence EWG on pesticides in fruits and vegetables — just got a $180,000 federally-funded grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the US Department of Agriculture to counter “activist groups [on] unsafe levels of pesticides.” Click here to join the tens of thousands who have told USDA that taxpayers’ money shouldn’t be used to fund agribusiness disinformation campaigns and help us get to 50,000 signatures!
MSNBC has posted an interesting article, which reports that children with high levels of certain pesticides are more likely to have ADHD. A few quotes from the article:
- Kids with higher-than-average levels of one pesticide marker were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD as children who showed no traces of the poison.
- Diet is a major source of pesticide exposure in children, according to the National Academy of Sciences, and much of that exposure comes from favorite fruits and vegetables.
- Researchers found that kids with a 10-fold increase in the kind of metabolites left in the body after malathion (an insecticide often used on blueberries, strawberries, and celery) exposure were 55 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.
- The most alarming finding was a near-doubling in odds of ADHD diagnoses among kids with higher-than-average levels of the most common of the six metabolites detected. Kids with high levels of dimethyl thiophosphate were 93 percent more likely to have the disorder than children with with undetectable levels of the marker.
- Children are at greater risk from pesticides because their young bodies are still developing and may not metabolize chemicals as well as adults’.
- Organophosphate pesticides, which account for as much as 70 percent of the pesticide use in the U.S., work by interfering with the nervous systems of insects, but have a similar effect in mammals, including humans. Most people in the U.S. have residues of the products in their urine.
Yet another reason to buy organic when you can!
As far as I know, blueberries haven’t been tested by the EWG in the past for their pesticide residues. But the most recent Shopper’s Guide now has blueberries in the top dozen most contaminated fruits and vegetables (number 5!) I guess that means we will only be eating them when we can find them organic. Check out this link for a great video of Dr. Weil talking about pesticides and organic produce. My favorite quote is “pesticides are toxins and that they can’t be good for you. The only question is how bad they are. And I think in many cases the answer is pretty bad.”
We have been in need of a new crib mattress. While we are expecting our third baby (and you’d think we already had a crib mattress), we have decided to keep our 2 year old on it in his crib for now. We bought a second hand crib from a neighbor but didn’t want to use the mattress. Conventional crib mattresses are filled with petroleum based polyurethane foam, which is highly flammable. This usually leads to the mattress being covered with flame retardant chemicals (PBDEs) that we are trying to avoid in our home when possible. Traditional mattresses can also have other chemicals in them, and many of these chemicals off-gas (see What’s the Problem with Conventional Mattresses below). This is really not something I want my newborn spending 2/3 of his life on. The crib mattress we used with my older two children is more than a decade old and I figured it had off-gassed most everything already. We wrapped it in an organic wool mattress pad and organic cotton sheets and felt good enough about it. But with this baby, I know more and am less comfortable using a traditional mattress. So I was on the market for a healthier alternative.
Continue reading »
After drinking Silk soy milk for 7 years, I learned that the manufacturer decided to stop using organic soybeans and replace them with conventionally grown ones. Needless to say, I was on the market for a new soy milk. Non-organic soybeans are not acceptable for my family, even if Silk claims they are not genetically modified.
My in-laws rave about Edensoy and the organic soy scorecard gives it the highest rating of any product. I was also interested in trying their milk as I already have become a fan of Eden Foods for producing cans not lined with BPA. I was a little hesitant because the cartons are not refrigerated and I don’t know why, but it just seems like the milk wouldn’t be as fresh. But I bought a carton and was pleased to see that sugar was not an ingredient. Edensoy has five ingredients, plus vitamins (water, soybeans, malted wheat and barley extract, kombu seaweed, and salt). The color is browner than I’m accustomed to, but I like the more natural, less sweet taste of it. My 22 month old also likes the taste. We have officially switched to a new soy milk!
This is a rough week for me–in the span of 48 hours, I have learned that two companies I trusted were dishonest with their consumers. First, I found out that SIGG water bottles used to be lined with BPA. Second, I found out that sometime in the spring of 2009, Silk soymilk stopped using organic soybeans. They didn’t change their packaging, UPC code, or the price of their soymilk–they simply stopped using organic soybeans and labeling the product organic. I never noticed until I read this article. I called to my husband, who was in the kitchen, and asked him to check our Silk and see if it was organic. His response, and I’m not kidding, was “of course it is.” I asked him to double check the label and sure enough, it’s no longer labeled organic.
Organicconsumers.org reports that:
- “Recently, Dean Foods reformulated their Silk product line changing almost all their products over to “natural” (conventional) soybeans. They did this, quietly, without telling retailers or changing the UPC code numbers on the products. Many retailers reported that they didn’t find out until their customers noticed and complained.”
- “To add insult to injury, not only did the price of Silk products not go down when they converted to cheaper conventional soybeans, but they now reintroduced three products with organic soybeans and raised the price on those. Greedy profiteering plain and simple.” Continue reading »
One of my favorite things to do in the summer is take my family to an organic farm about 25 minutes from our house. They have strawberries and raspberries you can pick yourself, and a barn full of fresh, organic produce for purchase. They team up with other farmers in the area to provide meat, eggs, jam, apple butter, honey, soy candles, etc. It is the most fun I have ever had shopping! I love that my kids get to see real farm animals (pigs, chickens, roosters, turkeys) and get to better understand where their food comes from. They love picking berries and seeing real tractors. I love supporting a local, organic farm and getting some of the best tasting produce I’ve ever had. Have you looked to see if something like this exists near you? Below are some pictures from the farm…
Continue reading »
We have now received our CSA shares for about 6 weeks. We love it! In addition to our weekly vegetables and fruits, we added a dozen organic, pastured eggs to our order. I met a woman that had visited the farm herself and she told me the chickens were in fact kept in a wonderfuly clean (and not smelly!) barn with access to a huge field. I wanted to give you a sample of what comes each week from the farm and here it is–two types of chard, kale, peas, radishes, lettuce, baby lettuce, cabbage, onions, squash, broccoli, flat leaf parsley, peaches, and one dozen pastured eggs. The previous two weeks came with 3 lbs of cherries. Everything from the CSA is organic!
The EWG has just released the 5th edition of its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides. This guide includes the 12 fruits and veggies that usually have the most pesticide residues on them. Peaches, apples, and bell peppers are usually at the top of the list, but I don’t remember seeing kale on it before. This surprises me as kale is quite bitter and I didn’t expect that pests would love it (peaches, on the other hand, make perfect sense.) The guide also include the 15 cleanest produce–fruits and veggies that usually have very low pestidice residues on them. These are the ones that you don’t have to buy organic (especially useful if you’re trying to eat organically but are worried about the cost). Avocado, pineapple, mango, and sweet peas have been on the list for a while. But, going purely from memory, it looks like they’ve removed banana from the Clean 15 list and now cabbage, eggplant, tomato, and sweet potato have been added. Very interesting!