What Is Organic Food… What’s The Difference?

Posted by Merlin on Sep 21, 2008

What Is Organic Food And Why You Should Consider Buying From An Organic Grocery Store


History of Herbalism

Posted by Merlin on Sep 21, 2008

Herbalism is the use of plants and plant extracts as traditional medicine.  Many plants contain substances that are useful to the health of humans and other animals, including many of the herbs and spices used to season food.

The people of every continent have used plants for the treatment of ailments since prehistoric times.  Healers often claimed to have learned by observing sick animals food prefences.  Such an approach likely found many treatments as well as many sick and dead healers.

Modern herbalism is both much the same, and far removed from its beginnings.  The use of herbs to treat disease is almost universal among non-industrialized societies, and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80% of the world’s population uses herbal medicine for primary care.

In a recent change, the search for drugs derived from plants has accelerated in industrialized nations. According to the WHO, approximately 25% of drugs used in the US are derived from plants.  And three quarter of plants used for prescription drugs came to researcher attention because of their use in traditional medicine.   

The modern herbalism movement is generally grouped under alternative medicine, also called complementary medicine.  This style of medicine centers on general body health as well as natural methods of focused medicine.

Cooking With Herbs and Spices

Posted by Merlin on Aug 21, 2008

Herbs have a variety of uses including culinary, medicinal, and in some cases spiritual use.  General useage is different with culinary, medicinal and spiritual herbs.  In medicinal and spiritual use, any part of the plant may be considered “herbs”, including the leaves, roots, flowers, resin, seeds, berries or other parts.  In cooking, “herbs” are from the leafy green parts of a plant, and “spices” are from other parts of the plant.

Herbs and spices are used in cooking to complement or change the flavor or aroma of a dish.  Every herb and spice has a unique character, but are many times complementary when used together on a particular meal.  Knowing the combination of herbs and spices for a particular dish is part science and part creative trial and error.

One of the most obvious principles of cooking is that you can’t make filet mignon from rump roast, and that principle applies to herbs and spices as well.  If you season good meat with fresh, high quality herbs and spices, you will end with a gourmet dish.  Use old, low quality herbs and spices on that same meat, and you likely will be disappointed with the result.   

Herbs and spices begin to lose their active ingredients as soon as they are crushed or otherwise prepared for the meal.  That means that the flavor, aroma, and medicinal effects begin to drop long before you get them to your kitchen in a jar.

Organic Vegetable Garden At Home

Posted by Merlin on Jul 21, 2008

Organic agriculture is generally agreed to be a belief in crop rotation, green manure, composting, and natural pest control to maintain soil productivity in the long term.  Organic agriculture excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides, growth “hormones”, and genetically modified organisms. Here’s how that relates to your organic vegetable garden in the short term: don’t use chemical anything! That includes fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and anything else you put into the air, water, or soil.  There are natural alternatives to anything chemical on the market.  In the long term, dig up your garden every 7 years and let it go fallow (let anything grow in it that cares to) for a year or two years if you can handle it.

But lets say that you already have a fallow area that you want to plant. What next? Build your vegetable garden taller than the surrounding area by building a small rock or wood wall around the area you will be planting in.  This will make it easier for you to both trim and collect your organic vegetables.  Make sure that you can reach the middle of your vegetable garden.  If you have a large area, make multiple small gardens.

Most properties inside a metropolitan area have been contaminated by chemical pesticides and would take decades to be truely clean.  Add organic soil to the area you created with rock or boards to ensure that you are starting organically.

Plant seeds that have been certified organic and water as usual.  Strict adherants of organic gardening have been known to filter their plants water.  Although time consuming, the adherants may have a point.  As with this whole process, it is a series of little changes that create a superior product. By making sure that all steps included are truely natural, better conditions will create better food.

Organic Beef Is Good For Cows?

Posted by Merlin on Jun 21, 2008

The philosophy of organic production is to provide conditions that meet the health needs and natural behavior of the animal. Thus, organic livestock are given access to the outdoors, fresh air, water, sunshine, grass and pasture, and are fed 100 percent organic feed. Any shelter provided must be designed to allow the animal comfort and the opportunity to exercise. Organic practices prohibit feeding animal parts of any kind to ruminants that, by nature, eat a vegetarian diet. Thus, no animal byproducts of any sort are incorporated in organic feed at any time.
National organic standards require oversight of production and handling systems. For instance, production and handling operations must undergo onsite inspections and have farm or operating plans in place in order to be certified organic. The standards also specify feed requirements, including what is and is not allowed.
For instance, in organic production, livestock cannot be fed plastic pellets for roughage, or formulas containing urea or manure. They cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones. All of these are allowable practices in conventional agriculture. For an animal to be raised for organic beef, its mother must have been fed organic feed for at least the last third of gestation. (Organic Trade Association)

All of these practices directly benefit the cows because their food and their treatment are directly regulated.  They must be allowed to graze outdoors (free range) whenever they wish, and only be fed a vegetarian diet (grass fed). And the way that they are handled is again regulated and they must be humanely treated.

Humans have eaten meat since they have been humans. We are omnivores by nature, and recent research points to high quality fish protein being the reason for our large brains. But just as we never need to appologize for eating meat, but we also never need to mistreat an animal so that we can eat.

Legal Herb Alternatives

Posted by Merlin on May 20, 2008

Psychoactive drugs are everywhere. Any discussion of drug use needs to take this into account. The broad category of “psychoactive drugs” consists of natural and synthetic substances that alter a person’s thoughts or feelings. There exist hundreds of plants, which, if eaten, smoked, snorted, or injected, will affect the mind—whether acting as a stimulant, depressant, or psychedelic. Thousands of known chemicals will do the same. Used recreationally, medicinally, or for work, some are illegal and others not: They include coffee, wine, and tobacco; prescription pain medications, sleep aids, and antidepressants; as well as cannabis, LSD, and heroin. Psychoactives are in the kitchen, in the hardware store, in the greenhouse, in home medicine cabinets, and in fuel tanks across the country.

Everyone uses them. Would you believe that nearly 90% of 45-year-olds in the United States have tried an illegal drug in their lifetime? As of 2006, more than 35 million Americans had taken an illicit drug in the previous year. Monitoring the Future (MTF), the best current survey about illegal drug use in the United States, reports that one in five college students used an illicit drug in the past month. Nearly all adults in the U.S. have tried alcohol, while over 80% use caffeine daily. Last year there were over 180 million prescriptions written for opiates alone, and a diverse assortment of psychoactives are increasingly used by older Americans from coast to coast. (Erowid.com)

Todays legal buds are specifically grown for optimum potency.  Grown either naturally (outdoors) or sometimes grown by hydroponics, legal bud is a cut above where it started.  Sometimes refered to as legal weed, legal marijuana, or legal herb all of these nicknames do not give true credit to legal bud.  Legal buds are not marijuna alternatives, but are completely different plants with their own unique character.  Anyone seeking a feeling like marijuana in these plants will be disappointed.  A person seeking to find each of these plants unique characters will be entirely pleased.

Organic Soap Stops Cancer!

Posted by Merlin on Apr 17, 2008

The majority of brands of body washes and shampoos in supermarkets contain sodium laural sulfate, or sodium lauraleth sulfate. Both of these chemicals have been “inconclusively” linked to an increase in cancer rates. Both of these chemicals are also commonly used as industrial cleaners for cleaning up petroleum product spills.

Our skin is the largest organ of the body, and according to recent research, up to 60% of what is on our skin is directly absorbed.  If you apply sodium lauraleth sulfate to your body daily, how much will be enough to cause cancer? 

How can you avoid sodium laural sulfate?  It is almost impossible to find a brand without it in the supermarket.  Local shops that specialize in organic or natural products would be a good start, as well as online organic stores.  Organic soap and organic body washes should not have either chemical and will keep you just as clean.

Of course organic soap and body wash does not stop cancer, but it helps you stop putting chemicals on your body!

Keeping Baby Rooms And Your Home Environmentally Safe

Posted by Merlin on Mar 25, 2008

High Magnetic And Electric Fields Cause Severe Long Term Illness.

Children are more vulnerable to electromagnetic waves because their bodies are developing as are their skulls.  High magnetic and electric fields can cause severe long-term illness, interfer with the immune system and keep children from sleeping well.

In Designing Your Baby Room:

  • Limit the use of electronics and wireless devices in and around the crib.
  • Reduce electromagnetic radiation by using battery powered clocks, avoid wireless devices such as portable phones, cell phones and wireless baby monitors.
  • Use an automatic-demand switch to turn off circuit breakers at night and to reduce the electric fields while you sleep.

Studies suggest that indoor air is 2 - 5 times more polluted than the air outside.

Products such as paints, lacquers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings can emit VOCs and gases into the air that we breathe.

Since babies breath more air pound for pound than adults, their growing bodies should be our utmost concern.

  • Remove airbound chemicals and gases with an indoor air purifier.   Look for a four stage filter that includes a medical grade HEPA filter and activated military carbon cloth.
  • Reduce bilogical contaminants like dust, mold, pollen and pet dander with a HEPA vacuum cleaner.
  • Change your furnace filters every three months.
  • Open windows and doors to bring in fresh air regularly.

Recent Studies Indicate That Plastic Baby Bottles Impair Normal Development.

According to recent studies, Bisphenol-A, a chemical found in some plastic baby bottles, can disrupt hormone function, cause hyperactivity and  increased aggression, lead to impaired learning, alter the functionin g of the immune system and is associated with obesity and diabetes.

  • Choose baby bottles and sippy cups that are free of Bisphenol-A or use glass bottles. 
  • Avoid plastic toys and bottles, which can leach endocrine disrupting chemicals into liquid when they heated or scratched.

Bath Water Linked To Cancer

Fifty percent of chlorine intake occurs while bathing.  Recent scientific studies have linked chlorinatied water, over time, to conditions such as cancer of the bladder, liver, stomach and colon.

Chlorine has also been found to increase the risk of asthma.

  • Use a chlorine filter like a bath ball or dechlorinating bath salts.
  • For older children, a chlorine shower filter can be installed.
  • Filters can also help eliminated odors, dirt and sediment that cause dry, itchy flakey skin, brittle hair and eye, lung and sinus irritation.  A bathtub filter will also keep your tub cleaner longer, as it reduces lime scale, mold and mildew deposits.

Less Than 30% Of Petrochemicals Used In Homes Have Been Tested For Their Effects On Human And Environmental Health.

Many cleaning products contain harssh chemical and synthetic fragrances.  The National Research Council estimates that less than 30% of the petrochemicals available for home use have been tested for their effects on us and our environment. 

This tells us that we don’t always know what is in our cleaning agents.

  • Use nontoxic, 100% biodegradable cleaning products.
  • Avoid extra strength cleancers, which may contain dangerours solvents, acids, caustic chemicals, bleach and ammonia.
  • Use mild, organic cleaners (such as unscented, general-purpose soaps and detergents) and homemade cleaners instead.

Pesticides Linked To Diseases, Including Leukemia.

Pesticides are linked to many diseases, including childhood leukemia and do not belong near small children who could accidently ingest them.

Pesticides can remain in carpeting for up to 20 years!

Keep your baby’s environment safe following these rules.

  • Use nontoxic methods of pest control.
  • Wipe your feet on a doormat or leave your shoes at the door to prevent tracking in pesticides on the bottom of your shoes.
  • Choose organic cloth toys and fabrics that do not contain harmful pesticides.
  • Keep accumulated trash to a minimum
  • Seal cracks to limit pests from entering your home.

Steps To A Green Baby Room; Healthy Baby Rooms

Posted by Merlin on Feb 15, 2008

Baby Room Furnishing Formaldehyde Poses Potential Threat! 

Selecting Baby Room Furnishings To Keep Your Baby Healthy.

When selecting a crib and other baby room furnishings for your new baby room, be sure to look beyond the style.

Formaldehyde can be found in baby furniture made with pressed wood products, urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI), tobacco smoke and permanent press / wrinkle-free fabrics.

Formaldehyde exposure has been linked to eye, nose and throat irritation, coughing, fatigue, skin rashes, severe allergic reactions and cancer.

  • Avoid manufactured wood products, such as particleboard, hardwood plywood paneling and medium-density fiberboard.
  • Look for a well constructed, handcrafted, natural wood crib that will grow with your child so that you don’t have to buy another expensive child’s bed in just a couple of years.

Lead Paint Used On Cribs Before 1978!

Many homes built before 1978 contain lead paint, which exposes a child to toxic, heavy metal.  This paint can be found on window frames, walls, old cribs and in new, imported toys.  Babies and toddlers don’t intent to eat the paint, but they are liable to chew on the headboard of a crib or a window sill within reach.

  • Use low or zero VOC (volatile organic compound) paints with natural pigments such as clay.  These new paints are durable, cost effective and pose less threat to human and environmental health.
  • Leave lead based paint undisturbed if it is in good condition.   Do not sand or burn off paint that may contain lead. 
  • Use a lead test kit to identify places and household objects where lead is lurking.

Crib Bedding With Dangerous Flame Retardant Chemicals And Pesticides

Your baby’s bedding can consist of artificial petroleum-derived foams and fibers, dangerous flame retardant chemicals and pesticides, all of which can expose your baby to toxic fumes. 

Additionally, stain and water-resistant treatments add more VOCs to the air we breathe.

  • Choose an organic, untreated, natural crib matteress with no chemical flame-retardants.  Wool is a good substiture as it is naturally flame retardant and dust mite resistant.
  • Avoid permanent press sheets or draperies, and look for organic fabrics that have not been treated with pesticides.
  • If you, or your child suffers from allergies or asthma, use barrier vocers for pillows and mattresses.

Carpets In Your House May Harbor Millions Of Microorganisms And Can Release Dangerous Chemicals!

Babies like to crawl, but carpets can harbor millions of micro-organisms. VOC’s can  be foind in the carpet fibers, backing and adhesives, as well as in any stain or water resistant treatments that may have been applied.

  • Choose an all-natural, 100% biodegradable carpet made from 100% wool fibers and with no toxic adhesives.
  • Or Select natural and hard surface flooring like wood, linoleum, cork (which insulates heat and sound), bambaoo and natural fiber area rugs with a nonslip pad.

Keep your baby safe by doing the necessary research before you buy new baby room furnishings.

Organic Chicken Free of Arsenic

Posted by Merlin on Jan 21, 2008

High Levels Of Arsenic In Chicken May Lower Consumption

Study in Environmental Health Perspectives Reveals Young Chickens Have Highest Level of Arsenic

Chicken consumption may contribute significant amounts of arsenic to total arsenic exposure of the U.S. population, according to a study published today in the January issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP). Arsenic is an approved animal feed supplement that farmers use to control intestinal parasites in chickens. The study indicates that at mean levels of chicken consumption, people may ingest 3.6-5.2 µg/day of inorganic arsenic from chicken alone.

Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives tolerable daily intake of 2 µg/kg/day of inorganic arsenic.

As per USDA regulations, arsenic is not an approved animal feed supplement to control intestinal parasites in chickens if they are to be labeled organic.