Posts Tagged ‘organic food’

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Or the factory farmed egg? How about Salmonella? Well, who knows. But what I do know are the differences between factory farmed eggs and farm fresh, organic eggs. In case you were wondering what the difference was, here are eight bullet points that spell it out for you in raw terms.

Let’s get down to what really matters first. Taste. Okay, yeah, health is good, nutrition is good, but as any five year old will tell you, taste is what wins. So here’s the skinny on farm fresh eggs. They taste better. Period. When a chicken is fed proper seeds and grains, and has time outside of cage, it is happier and healthier, and therefore produces more fertile and flavorful eggs. The yolk is richer, the flavor is more robust and the vitamin/mineral value is higher. Farm fresh for the flavor win. So everything is better for you when it’s organic, right? The difference, however, between organically produced eggs, and farm fresh, is that the USDA has no living condition regulations when it comes to defining something as “organic.” In fact, the only stipulation, in the case of laying hens, is that they must be fed organic food. You can cram as many of those little buggers in one cage as you like, and their eggs are still “organic,” just as long as they’re fed organic food. However, an essential part of the well being of any animal (cow, chicken, human) is the ability to roam as they please. If a chicken is healthy, her eggs will be too. A is for awesome, and E is for egg. Farm fresh eggs have more of both (the vitamins, that is). One dozen eggs divided by 4 =Omega 3! More of it in those farm fresh gems. Less is more: When you choose farm fresh, you’re choosing an egg with 1/2 as much fat and cholesterol. When you buy organic, farm fresh eggs, from free range chickens, you’re supporting a healthier environment. You have the comfort of knowing that what you’re putting in your body is free of artificial hormones, or anything else that might harm you or your family. Supporting your local farmer supports your local economy and the organic foods movement.

And if you’re not sure where else besides the grocery store to find eggs, check Craigslist. There’s always a few farmers there with a few extra eggs. The last batch I bought was just $3.00/dozen. A little more than what you’ll pay at a supermarket, but the consider what you get for your money, and where your money is going, and the choice is easy.

Get Crackin! Facts provided by Dr James G Hood.

It’s mid-September and school is back in session. And you know what that means. Well, if you live in a college town like San Luis Obispo, it means a general increase in the incidence of public drunkenness and sharp decrease in your odds of finding a decent parking space. But if you’re a member of the student body, it means time to sharpen your pencil and your mind, fine tune your memory, and lubricate your neurotransmitters.

So here are a few tips for students of all ages on how to nourish your mind with some all-natural sustenance to keep you sharp, healthy and alert without burning out halfway through the semester.

· Caffeine and sugar comprise the cornerstones of many a student diet, and they do indeed give the brain a good kick start. But to keep going for the duration without the weary crash, consider something with a lower glycemic index. Don’t worry, it’s as simple as a piece of fruit. The fructose will provide far more stamina than the blood-sugar-spike-inducing sucrose of table sugar. Might even get you through the post-coffee doldrums.

· Third in the collegiate trifecta diet, of course, is alcohol. Red wine in fact is a good source of anti-oxidants, but don’t get carried away. Green tea is also famously rich in antioxidants — key elements in promoting good mental and physical health and neutralizing free-radicals, which can cause cancer. But you know what has even more antioxidants? Chocolate! Yeah, no kidding. (Exercise moderation.)

· OK, so not every student survives off those staples of sugar, caffeine and alcohol. It’s rare, but some — usually archaeology majors and grad students — actually think about the long term. For the very long term, consider good sources of choline, a cellular building block which has been shown to improve memory and prevent senility. Nothing has more choline than egg yolks, so try to find a good local source and gobble away. Plenty of people in these parts raise their own chickens, so ask around, because commercial eggs may be tainted with salmonella.

· My own personal favorite, for long-term preservation of the cognitive functions, is a hot bowl of curry. Turmeric, a key ingredient in curry, has been shown to ward off symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. So next time you go out for Indian or pick up some Thai take-out, don’t forget to order up some extra curry. Or pick up some turmeric and spices from the Secret Garden and conjure your own curry!

· We’ve all heard the old wives’ tale about fish being good brain food. Well it turns out that rumor is more than just air bubbles. Omega-3 fatty acids — widely found in fish, especially the oily ones like salmon, herring, and sardines, as well as flax oil and hemp seed oil — provide an essential component to the outer membrane of brain cells. These oils have been shown to prevent memory impairment, and to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

I had a few more suggestions, but believe it or not, this research has worked up quite an appetite. So I’m off to enjoy something oily with a glass of red wine and a slice of chocolate cake. Now if I can just remember where I put my wine opener. . .

It’s three in the morning, and you jolt awake from a nightmare involving  clowns and people with creepy mustaches. Your head is pounding, which prevents you from going back to sleep. The dream has left you with anxiety and your heart pounds big rhythmic thumps in your chest.  The anxiety brings on your asthma and as you reach for the inhaler you get a charlie horse in your leg. Jumping from the pain, you accidentally scrape your head on the corner of the nightstand containing said inhaler and a small amount of blood is drawn. Your headache worsens and you now have a plethora of problems whose pay dirt can only be purloined by procuring that purple miracle: lavender. 

Aside from looking pretty, and smelling even better, lavender has a variety of uses. lavender has been used for quite some time as an antiseptic and pain reliever, and as a calming agent for anxiety, stress, and nervous tension. There’s a couple of different methods for using nature’s purple bushy wonder. One unique way to relieve tension headaches and treat respiratory problems with lavender is to put its oil derivative in to a vaporizer. Amongst the long list of uses that lavender has, it can work as a pain reliever, when used in massage. It can fight off pesky insects from mosquitoes to lice, and has possibly reduced mammary tumors in lab rats (though I doubt those mammary tumors are the worst of a lab rat’s problems) lavender oil has anti-fungal properties. As a result, it may be able to treat acne, cuts, burns, psoriasis, and when added to chamomile, eczema. This amazing stuff can improve circulation, lower blood pressure and aid in treating hypertension. As a dietary aid, the oil stimulates digestive properties that fend off indigestion, stomach pain, gas, and other unpleasant problems caused from that two am pizza binge. In aromatherapy lavender oil is used for depression and emotional stress. It can increase mental activity and relieve restlessness.

All around, lavender and its derivatives are pretty useful in every day life. You can grow lavender in rough terrain and if prefers the hot weather. It’s a natural cure all that makes your house smell like heaven, and it tastes pretty dang good in ice cream! Put a little purple in your life and try Ruth’s lavender salve.

Song of the day: Start Wearing Purple by Gogol Bordello.

We live in a world obsessed with eternal youth. Over nine million Americans contribute billions of dollars each to year to the Anti-Aging Industry. From anti-aging creams to plastic surgery, we’ll do anything to retain the appearance of our halcyon youth. This crazed obsession, which can take a nasty toll on our health, has left me wondering: How can we stay young naturally? (Not that aging should be such a taboo activity anyway.) So that being said, I’ve done a little digging for you all, and here are three natural keys to the fountain of youth.

The Beatles put it best when they said, “All You Need is Love.” (Please ignore the obvious amount of work that Mr. McCartney has had done.) In a series of studies conducted at the HeartMath Institute, a correlation has been found between DHEA (the “anti-aging” hormone) and feelings of love and compassion. In one group of 30 volunteers, DHEA levels were increased 100 percent when doing a series exercises developed to feel love at will over an extended period of time. And yes, it is greater to give than to receive. According to “The Health Benefits of Love” by M. Langton, the same study claimed that “showing support and affection for loved ones seems to slow the aging process even more than receiving love does.” So there you have it, one more reason to buy your girlfriend bar of Sweet Earth Chocolate and a Dreamsacks dress from Bambu Batu.

We all know that music seems keeps musicians young (or immature… or maybe they just die young…) Either way, studies with senior citizens have shown that learning to play music and participating in performances not only gives them a sense of community by eliminating feelings of loneliness; it decreases levels of stress and anxiety and increases the production of HGH (the human growth hormone) which can increase energy levels, decrease physical signs of aging, promote sexual function (WOOHOO) and relieve physical pain. Maybe this is where I should take back my comment about Pauly’s plasitic surgery? Recorders are cheap and they last longer than a bottle of some weird chemical cream. Go learn a tune and drive your neighbor crazy. When they complain, point out your smooth skin and virility!

Cliche? Maybe. True? Definitely. Laughter is the best medicine. Making you feel like a member of the Tuck Family is just one more way laughter and humor can work to improve quality of life. There are several physical, physiological and psychological benefits of laughter that relate directly to staying youthful. Laughter can significantly reduce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Physically, laughter can improve circulation and cardiovascular strength, work several major muscle groups including core and leg muscles, improve the immune system and lower blood pressure. According to Johns Hopkins University, humor during instruction can help in retaining information, and can improve mental alertness and creativity; all things that can put a spring in your step.

So, what if you were to wake up every morning and have a different de-aging routine? What if, instead of: wake up, put on creams, go to the dermatologist to get your skin burned off, read magazine articles on looking younger, buy something at Forever 21, take a pill, put on more creams and go to bed, you: wake up, kiss something, even if it’s your dog, sing a tune, read a joke, do a friend a favor, buy a record (at a local record store, of course) go to a comedy club, on a date, and then take that date back to your place to listen to the aforementioned record? I mean, I know it’s crazy…

With the blossoming awareness of sustainability, local economies and fair trade practices, we are committed to sourcing the highest quality as well as the most ethically and ecologically produced products we can find. That includes a number of fair trade companies working in India, Thailand and Vietnam; several manufacturers who cut and sew their bamboo and organic cotton clothing here in the US; and a variety of chocolatiers, candle makers, seamstresses and herbalists all based right here in SLO County.

But we still get a lot of concerned customers asking, “When are we going to start growing the bamboo here in the states?” Well, that’s a good question, because that’s an awfully appealing idea, at least in theory. It could, after all, be an important step in getting off our oil dependency and the reliance on Chinese imports.

As much as we strive to eliminate our carbon footprints and environmental impacts, there are limits. We can reduce and minimize, but there are no consumer products with zero impact. Even if you grow all your own organic produce and make your own clothing with a solar-powered sewing machine, you’ll still need to haul methane-rich manure in from somewhere, and get your new sewing needles, threads and fabrics from somewhere.

In this six billion man village, our survival depends on specialization, and specialization means commerce. We can encourage as much local trade as possible, but we cannot eliminate international commerce. The fair trade movement, for example, fosters socially responsible trade with the third world, recognizing that we need to eliminate inhumane business practices without completely severing ties with our trading partners around the globe.

As much as we love to support our local farmers, most varieties of bamboo are native to Asia. Of the 1500+ species, only two or three are native to North America. Moso bamboo (Phyllostachys pubescens), the variety most commonly harvested for commercial use — for clothing, flooring and kitchen wares — is native to China and Japan. And while it may grow well in gardens of California and the Pacific Northwest, introducing it to the U.S. on a massive agricultural scale could bring all kinds of unforeseeable ecological problems.

The beauty of bamboo, as a natural resource, resides in its tenacious growth habit without need of irrigation or fertilizers, and its resilience against pests — in sharp contrast to cotton, it requires no pesticides or herbicides. These wonderful benefits are seen in bamboo’s natural habitat. But transplanted to someplace like the San Joaquin Valley, intensive irrigation would become necessary, and who know what sort of pest and disease issues might crop up.

Does this mean we should abandon the idea altogether? Not necessarily, but extensive consideration and research will be needed. Just remember the rabbits in Australia. And yes, in the right (or wrong?) conditions, bamboo spreads just as fast as bunnies.

Stay tuned for further stories on the unexpected outcomes of bamboo ecology . . .