Posts Tagged ‘organic’

Stephen Colbert hightlights Raw Dairy Raid in Venice, CA and it begs the question: Why are some people: celebs, athletes, and not-so-local folks enduring LA traffic and paying to join a private club (Rawesome) so they can consume these products?

Before The Raid
Rawesome was just a local private food club selling some of the best produce, oils, prepared food, nuts, supplements, smoothies, raw meats, wild fish, and yes, raw dairy, that happened to be up the street from me. When I met volunteer Lela Buttery who introduced me to James Stewart, a co-founder of Rawesome Foods in Venice, it was for an interview about what food is and isn’t today, how a grocery store could be run, and how one man’s journey to heal himself led to a business of helping others. So excited about what I saw and tasted, I became a member and began to write a story about James’ personal journey — how switching to whole organic, and yes raw dairy, foods helped him both physically and emotionally. My story would focus on words and phrases like “honesty” and “consumer trust” and “ethics in food production” and the interdependency of “food costs and health costs” of which James spoke so eloquently and passionately. My story wouldn’t be the story of raw dairy, it would be about quality food and the return of the truly local grocery store.

And Then Came The Raid
I heard about it from Lela. How was it? Were you scared? I asked curiously, sharing with her that my only close encounters with military force had been seeing the armed guards at the Dublin, Ireland airport and on Madison Avenue on September 12, 2000, when tanks came through the streets. I could understand their military presence based on the events at the time, but federal guns wielded in a private buying club? Why was our government crying over raw milk? Had it spilled? Had it killed? Had someone just got the address wrong and thought this was a drug bust? None of the above, I soon learned. I will leave the coverage of the raid to Colbert, as they did a most excellent job. However, despite them highlighting the issues in their piece, I left the segment wondering, had consumers’ thirsts been quenched, or was there more to the raw dairy story?

After The Raid
I sat down with Lela Buttery, a biologist, to talk about raw dairy and here’s what I learned:

Me: What does “raw” mean for milk, cheese, meats, produce?
Lela Buttery: When most people think about “raw” they associate it with vegan/vegetarian, but it actually isn’t about animal or not, raw means raw proteins. Raw proteins are virgin proteins. Straight from the animal, untouched — meaning not heated, added to or subtracted from. Raw milk is hand milked from the animal by a reputable farmer with whom you should be familiar and trust their practices. What comes out of the animal is what you consume. Dairy products are made from that raw milk such as: cheese, ice cream, yogurt and butter. Grass-fed, free-range meats (chicken, lamb, beef, pork and bison) are those that are freshly slaughtered and never finished on corn. This is what we mean when we say raw.

Me: How does it taste?
LB: Amazing! Most people think that raw milk is going to be thick or viscous, but the thick viscosity that one finds in conventional whole milk is due to homogenization. Raw milk tastes like milk, but with a fresher more enhanced flavor. Most people comment on how thin the consistency is to what they imagined it to be. The taste is the difference between instant mash potatoes and homemade.

Me: What should I look for when choosing raw on a label? Can I trust that if my grocery store claims a cheese to be raw that it really is?
LB: Due to the lack of an actual definition of the term “raw” it is open to interpretation. So don’t believe everything you see when reading “raw” on a label — investigate! Be your own scientist and test the product. Ask what temperature the product has been heated to. If it was over 150 degrees it’s probably not raw. Be aware! If the food doesn’t occur in nature the way it is packaged, then it was refined in some way.

Me: What if I want to try raw, what should I consider to try first?
Find a reputable farmer that has a small farm. A farmer should want to show off his or her good clean practices. I always tell people to get to know your farmer, visit their farm or know someone that has visited. If a farmer won’t let you visit then do not buy their product. In terms of what food to start with, it is pretty easy to get raw cheese, so I would say start there.

Me: Is raw dairy really safe for me, for my family?
You must know your source. Visit the farmer, watch their practices and sample the products that the farmer is offering. Then make a decision that is best for you and your family. It’s best when the meats are all slaughtered on a weekly basis, eggs the day after they have been laid, and milk hand milked the same week. All cold products are stored in a 30 degrees walk-in cooler. Conventionally products can be weeks old laced with preservative and washed with acids. Some poultry can be frozen up to two years by USDA standards.

Me: Are there any proven nutritional benefits of raw vs. pasteurized dairy?
There are very few studies done on the benefits of raw dairy, but I believe that it is due to lack of funding. However, I believe that raw milk is essentially a super food — it’s nutrient dense, enzyme and mineral rich, so it’s very natural. There are many countries that do not pasteurize and really it is only due to the mass production of dairy the U.S. began to pasteurize. We wouldn’t boil our breast milk, why? Because it may not be as nutrient-rich for the child. Exactly the reasons for not killing raw milk. Pasteurized milk is completely dead and has no enzymes. It is fortified with vitamins, but your body will have a hard time utilizing those vitamins in a media that is not bio-available. There are many consumers of raw dairy that claim it has aided in digestive ailments, like asthma and psoriasis, and does not seem to hurt those with lactose and casein sensitivities.

So whether or not you choose to consume raw dairy, this should help clear up some of the misconceptions.

Follow Ashley Koff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@ashleykoff

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How much convincing (and money spent) do we need that the chemicals used in non-organic farming are bad for babies and our kids? This study highlights the role of chemicals in relationship to ADD / ADHD. If your child suffers, or if you want to prevent – I recommend choosing organic wherever possible. Need ideas, see my Back-to-School nutrition segment from GMA Health (8/24) http://wp.me/smkEm-831

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I wanted to share this awesome comment that came in response to a response I wrote to a blog on HealthyChild.org – whoa, did you catch that? This family is literally going to the ends of the Earth to get organic. I’m as impressed as I was when I was served almost exclusively organic meals at the Royal Coachman Lodge (only access is via float plane) in Bristol Bay, Alaska during my stay there last month.

You can see the comment at the following URL:

I hear everyone saying that organic food is expensive and some of it is. However, a lot of it is not so expensive. It has recently become important to me to eat more organic food.

We live in the Arctic where produce is hard to get, so for two years we have been subscribed to a CSA farm which sends us a box a week by plane. So nearly all of our produce is organic. We have virtually eliminated processed food and have become more vegan since we moved to the Arctic, so even where food is VERY expensive our food budget for five is between the USDA Thrifty Plan and their Low-Cost Plan. (It really doesn’t take that much work either, I spend more time processing produce a week than making bread, sauces, and beans)

I did an extensive calculation of our monthly food usage by ingredients and weight and discovered that we can eat about 60 % organic for less than 50 dollars more a month. Most of the other 40% is not even available organically. We are waiting to see if we will be able to switch to a closer CSA. If we do switch, we will probably save at least $50 a month, so it really will not cost us extra after all. Of course, if we could have more than a postage stamp garden…

Eating organic really doesn’t have to be that expensive if you eat unprocessed, vegan food. Vegan really is better for your body too, check it out.

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I was recently sent the below blog “Organic Food has a ‘Health Halo,’ Too” and wanted to add my two cents.

First cent, the most important point is that organic food deserves a health halo, and deserves it more than many other halos given out today in the food arena (i.e., Super Foods, Non-GMO and most certainly, versus “All-Natural”). Organic means Food (period). So organic warrants a health halo because it provides us food without genetically modified seeds, without the use of pesticides, and with an optimal nutrient load (i.e., that which a plant or animal develops naturally).

Second cent, the blog raises a good point – that the health halo effect of organic can be one that some consumers and manufacturers can abuse by ignoring the principles of optimal nutrition. These principles include portion control and nutrient balance (I choose to emphasize this over calorie control because it: a) accomplishes calorie control and b) recognizes the need for nutrient balance – some carb, protein, and healthy fat versus the dominance of one nutrient over another sheerly for caloric control. Another principle of optimal nutrition is choice – such as making choices to have chocolate one day and wine another or to choose to have neither and to enjoy organic berries and avocado (incidentally, you can make a wicked dessert parfait from avocado and berries).

So, if one looks to organic Oreo versions and makes the choice to have a portion and accounts for their carbohydrate and fat servings, and consumes some healthy protein with them as well, then yes, organic cookies can be part of a healthy diet. What’s more – after my recent trip to Brazil and to Native’s organic sugar cane farm, I am all the more convinced that if we exchanged sugar intake from chemically-processed to organic (and there’s is even from a biodynamic farm!) we would see health improvements, as well as environmental ones (as if we could separate those two!)…and if we addressed portion control, nutrient balance, and choice as well – we’d have the whole nutrition for optimal health package! Yes you can enjoy organic sugar containing products like Crofter’s spreads (incidentally only 35 calories per serving – not that we are talking calories, but…), several Nature’s Path cereals and granolas, Late July cookies, and organic chocolates…but you can certainly enjoy whole food options without sugar at all as well like Earthbound Farms organic produce, Vital Choice wild Alaskan Salmon, Organic Valley eggs and more. (more…)

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Natural and organic products industry sales hit $76 billion.
Even in tough economic times, the natural and organic products industry reports 4.8 percent growth.

BOULDER, Colo. (June 2, 2010) – Natural Foods Merchandiser magazine’s June Market Overview reports sustained growth for the natural and organic products industry. With more than $76 billion in total revenues last year, the industry grew 4.8 percent from 2008, despite an economy that saw many consumer-spending categories decline.

This research shows that certain categories are experiencing double-digit growth. Gluten-free food sales, for example, grew 12 percent over the previous year, proving this growing segment is more than a food fad. Dietary supplements continued to be top sellers, and categories like digestive health experienced almost 16 percent growth as consumers showed strong interest in condition-specific health areas, including heart health and immunity.

“Overall, consumer concerns about health and wellness in the face of rising medical costs are driving interest and demand for healthy foods, dietary supplements, personal care items and other natural and organic products,” said Anna Soref, editor-in-chief of Natural Foods Merchandiser. “I believe these positive numbers for the natural and organic products industry in a tough year like ’09 demonstrate that the industry is recession proof.”

The Natural Foods Merchandiser’s 2010 Market Overview is a comprehensive report detailing sales results for the natural and organic products industry. In addition to overall spending figures, the Market Overview also reports results by product segments, average sales per store and overall business statistics for natural products retailers.

In addition to its own proprietary research, the Natural Foods Merchandiser Market Overview incorporates sales data from SPINS, a Schaumburg, Ill., based market research firm, and interviews with a variety of industry experts, such as Steven Mister, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Council for Responsible Nutrition.

Also included in the Market Overview are the results from a recent survey conducted by iVillage/Delicious Living magazine. Researchers polled almost 5,000 women about their attitudes on health, and how those attitudes influence purchasing decisions and brand selection.

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Recent studies have shown the harm of chemicals in our food and environment on our health (President’s Council – on Cancer risk; Chemicals in food affecting kids – ADHD). What does this tell us? The findings stated that if you want to reduce health risks, then eat organic.

But does this mean organic is MORE nutritious? And if so, how much more (percentage please)? And this is where the media and medical professionals say we need more studies, more information, more evidence that organic is truly MORE nutritious.

Despite the fact that several of those studies exist, and that knowledge of botany allows us to understand that foods in the absence of chemical blockers produce greater nutrient content, I actually think it may be wrong to ask is organic MORE nutritious.
But aren’t I a spokesperson for organic? What’s up?

The issue, as I see it, is that Organic equals Nutritious. Plain and simple. That chemically made food is not nutritious. That if we make claims about organic being “more” nutritious, we confer “nutritious” status on foods made with chemicals. From what we are learning, chemicals challenge our bodies in manner which does not “nurture” on any level. As such, we can’t call chemically-made food less nutritious than organic – we must state it as not nutritious. Thus, anyone we feed – be it our own bodies, our kids, our pets …that we wish to nurture, we should be feeding them organic.

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This past weekend could have been a recipe for disaster and dissatisfaction. I was thrilled to join a panel of the amazing Dr. Greene (Feeding Baby Green), Anna Getty (Easy, Green, Organic) and Anni Daulter (Organically Raised) at Whole Child Whole Planet Expo to help parents navigate better food choices for their kids (and themselves). However, my participation meant the dreaded red eye to NYC so that I’d make NYC Grows with events and booths from my friends at Nature’s Path, Organic Valley, and Rodale (Organic Gardening magazine and Maria Rodale’s new book –Organic Manifesto). Let me be clear, for all reasons health and sanity, after age 30, I made it a core policy to not take red eyes. And that said, what unfolded, with a little help from my own AKA flight kit tips, proved to be one of the most energizing experiences. It had everything to do with my prep and my recovery being organic fare, even the AKA flight kit remedies are organic too. Gee, I bet Mother Nature never knew that her bounty would be promoted as the solution to red eye travel recovery. (more…)

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